Consenting Task Group


We are committed to improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of Scotland’s aquaculture regulatory regime. A Review of the Aquaculture Regulatory Process in Scotland, published in February 2022, concluded the first phase of a broad review of aquaculture regulatory processes.

On 3 May 2022, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands announced the details of the second phase of work for the Scottish Government’s aquaculture review, accepting the recommendations of the regulatory review report in principle, aiming to rapidly progress efficiencies in consenting and consider issues of science, alongside the development of a new Scottish Government-led Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture and as advised by the Scottish Aquaculture Council.

The key objective of Consenting Task Group (CTG) is to identify an efficient and effective aquaculture consenting process, which enables appropriately informed regulatory decisions to made as quickly as possible. To do so, the CTG will work together to identify, pilot, and review new measures to achieve an improved, multilateral consenting process framework.

Terms of reference



Scottish Ministers aim to reduce the complexity of the consenting system, remove duplication, ensure that it is transparent and fair, reduce the time taken to gain aquaculture consents, encourage investment, and to improve communication between regulators and applicants, without reducing the overall scrutiny of procedures and the protection afforded to the environment.

The CTG will work together and at pace to identify, pilot and review new measures to achieve improvements in aquaculture consenting processes. Specifically, the CTG should, by summer 2023:

  • take forward the findings of the workshop on the regulatory review consenting recommendations, and work to explore a co-ordinated consenting process, focussed on new fish farm developments within existing roles and responsibilities and within the flexibility of existing legislation
  • focus on developing a co-ordinated consenting process and the single consenting document, which mandates what all parties involved in the application are subject to, derived from pre-application consultation prior to submission of development applications and which has the flexibility to identify and implement broader improvement processes and mechanisms (for example, EIA processes, working arrangements, screening and spatial advice)

Progress must be demonstrable and measurable. To achieve this, the CTG will be supported by a subgroup of regulators and scientists who will look at monitoring, performance and reporting systems and the piloting of proposals, alongside applicants.


  • the Chair of the CTG will provide updates to the SAC, supported by the CTG secretariat, attending as invited by the SAC


  • meetings of the CTG will take place every 4 to 6 weeks. Hybrid and in-person meetings will take place, as determined by the Chair
  • those responsible for administering the consenting system will commit to meeting in-between CTG meetings to support delivery
  • by agreeing to participate in the group, members commit to fostering collaborative relationships and new ways of working

Related groups


  • Professor Dickon Howell CMarSci (Chair)
  • Salmon Scotland (Scottish Sea Farms, Bakkafrost, and Mowi)
  • British Trout Association
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Crown Estate Scotland
  • heads of planning representative
  • local authority planner representative
  • Scottish Government (Aquaculture Policy, Environmental Quality and Resilience Policy, Planning Policy, Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team, Fish Health Inspectorate, and Improvement Advisor)

We provide secretariat support and additional invitations may be sent out for specific tasks and meetings to draw in wider perspectives as necessary, such as to statutory consultees.

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