6. The option to classify either 2 SPAs or 1 SPA in Orkney waters
6.1 The 2016/17 public consultation on the 15 pSPAs included two pSPAs located off Orkney mainland: North Orkney pSPA and Scapa Flow pSPA.
6.2 In recognition of the potential complexities of future management of two neighbouring SPAs supporting near identical qualifying species, Marine Scotland requested further advice from SNH and JNCC on the option to take forward a single combined SPA covering both pSPA locations, provided this did not compromise the scientific case or site selection process.
6.3 The re-analysis of the high density areas and population estimates for a combined SPA confirmed the underpinning scientific data would not be compromised and therefore, both approaches are equally scientifically valid.
6.4 Marine Scotland, in agreement with SNH consider there is a case to rationalise the two pSPAs to aid future management.
6.5 This presents two options for classification as illustrated in Figures 2 and 3 below:
Figure 2: Option 1 to classify Orkney Inshore Waters pSPA.
Figure 3 Option 2 to classify North Orkney pSPA and Scapa Flow pSPA.
6.6 The updated Environmental Report considers the Orkney Inshore Waters pSPA to be the preferred policy recommendation. If the option to classify North Orkney pSPA and Scapa Flow pSPA is taken forward then the qualifying status of the following species would be removed from North Orkney pSPA but remain as qualifying species in Scapa Flow pSPA:
- Common eider mollissima subspecies (non-breeding)
- Long-tailed duck (non-breeding)
- Red-breasted merganser (non-breeding)
- European Shag (non-breeding)
6.7 Under SEA Reasonable Alternatives 1 and 2 the number of qualifying species associated with either option would be unaffected.
6.8. Under SEA Reasonable Alternatives 3 and 4 breeding red-throated diver would remain a qualifying species of the Orkney Inshore Waters pSPA (option 1), and would also remain a qualifying species at Scapa Flow pSPA but would be removed as a qualifying species at North Orkney pSPA (option 2).