Aquaculture Consenting Task Group - Advisory Group minutes: April 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 28 April 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Other Organisation

  • Professor Dickon Howell, Howell Marine Consulting (Chair)
  • Professor Russel Griggs, Independent
  • Anne Anderson, Scottish Sea Farms (SSF)
  • Dougie Hunter, Mowi
  • Dave Cockerill, Bakkafrost
  • Peter Pollard, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) 
  • Michael Montague, SEPA
  • Mark Harvey, Highland Council
  • Simon Pallant, Shetland Islands Council

Scottish Government

  • Jill Barber, Head of Aquaculture Development
  • Bill Ellis, Head of Aquaculture Consenting
  • Jamie Barnes, Aquaculture Planning and Consenting Policy Manager 
  • Alex Jasinski, Aquaculture Planning Policy Support Officer
  • Kieran McQuaid, Performance and Change Lead


  • Iain Laing, Improvement Adviser, SG
  • Malcolm Pentland, Deputy Director, Seafood Trade, Aquaculture and Recreational Fisheries, SG

Secretariat provided by Scottish Government officials.

Items and actions

Actions Agreed

Regular meeting invites to be sent by Scottish Government officials.

Scottish Government officials will pull together a draft process, aiming to have it finalised with input from the entire advisory group by summer 2023.

Sites to be piloted should be agreed in future.  

Feedback and Observations

The independent advisor and sector members commented on the positive camaraderie visible in the workshop. 

Sector members commented on the volume of work apparent and the need to break down into manageable chunks to progress. The sector requested feedback on their presentation on activities undertaken before pre application. 

SEPA commented that that the sectors activities before pre-app should be part of the more formal SEPA pre-app process.

Local Authority (LA) members commented that it would be good to make that early pre pre-app and pre-app sector work more transparent.

Sector members commented on the value of that early work and the need for consistency in approach. i.e., guidelines/template. 

Sector members commented on the positivity of the workshop and the good energy behind the group to affect positive change.

Sector members noted that any trial process needs strong official management.

SEPA agreed with industry members on the need for solid coordination at an early stage between developers and regulators to effectively screen in/out as early as possible.

Prioritising Issues

SG officials commented on the need to handle emotive language from the workshop data captured on the spreadsheet to turn it into practical solutions via a blueprint. 

There needs to be agreement on the priorities. 

LA members commented on the ‘boundary’ between ‘pre’ pre-app and pre-app. LAs also conduct pre-app activities and require the boundary to be pushed back earlier.

LA members commented on the practical problem of commercial sensitivity of developers’ early ideas and the sharing of information. 

SG officials noted a need for a delineation between formal and informal pre-app process.

Sector members suggested the need to agree on principles or concordat (aka a draft management framework). 

Next Steps

SG officials commented on the need to get a process down on paper with input from all of the advisory group, with no need for a further workshop at this stage.

SG officials asked for views on a regular meeting schedule. Meeting every 3 weeks was accepted. 

Sector members requested that a facilitator is defined for the draft management framework and trial to work.

Action – Regular meeting invites to be sent by SG officials.

Action – SG officials will start the draft paperwork process aiming to have it finalised with input from the entire advisory group by summer.

LA members commented on how we communicate process with other local authorities after the trial. 

Action for the future – pilot sites to be agreed.

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