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Policy actions  1 of 3

National marine planning

Marine planning in Scotland’s inshore waters (out to 12 nautical miles) and offshore waters (12 to 200 nautical miles) is governed by the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 , an Act of the Scottish Parliament and by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, an Act of the UK Parliament, respectively. The two Acts (referred to as the Marine Acts) establish a legislative framework for marine planning to enable demands on marine resources to be managed in a sustainable way across all of Scotland’s seas.

Scotland’s first statutory marine plan, the National Marine Plan was adopted and published in March 2015. The policies and objectives of the Plan establish how Scottish Ministers intend marine resources to be used and managed. The Plan supports development and activity in Scotland’s seas while incorporating environmental protection into marine decision making to achieve sustainable management of marine resources. The policies and objectives of the Plan will also be reflected in the development of Regional Marine Plans ( RMPs).

View the key documents prepared to support the development of the National Marine Plan.

We published planning circular 1/2015 to explain the relationship between the marine and terrestrial (land use) planning systems, including related regimes such as marine licensing and consenting for offshore wind generation, ports and harbours development aquaculture.

Reviewing the National Marine Plan

In line with the Marine Acts, we have carried out two statutory reviews of the National Marine Plan to date, in 2018 and 2021:

The 2021 review concluded that, whilst the National Marine Plan remains effective, there have been significant national and global developments, which impact our use and management of Scotland’s marine resources.

National Marine Plan 2

In the Programme for Goverment 2022-23, Scottish Ministers committed to start the process of developing a new National Marine Plan for Scotland, to address the global climate and nature crises, by carefully managing increased competition for space and resources in the marine environment.

The Marine Acts set out the statutory requirements for the planning process, which will require sustained stakeholder engagement and detailed assessment work and will take approximately three years to complete and will incorporate several stages.

See our statement of public participation for more information about the process.

Engaging during the planning process

Scotland’s marine environment provides a variety of goods and services that are essential to the daily lives of almost everyone in Scotland. To ensure that we can continue to benefit from our marine environment, it is essential to seek a balance between the different economic, social and environmental demands on ocean space and to minimise our impact on the marine environment as far as possible. The preparation of a new National Marine Plan provides an opportunity for all users of Scotland’s seas to have their say.

The input and feedback provided by stakeholders during this planning process will be considered and used to inform our next National Marine Plan. For further information regarding our approach to stakeholder engagement, please see our stakeholder engagement strategy (which includes our statement of public participation).

If you wish to be added to our NMP2 development updates and future events, please leave your information using the short survey.

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