Aquaculture Consenting Task Group - Advisory Group minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 9 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Other Organisation

  • Dave Cockerill, Bakkafrost
  • Dougie Hunter, Mowi
  • Peter Pollard, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) 
  • Mark Harvey, Highland Council
  • Simon Pallant, Shetland Islands Council
  • Professor Dickon Howell, Howell Marine Consulting (Chair)

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
  • Professor Russel Griggs, Independent
  • Anne Anderson, Scottish Sea Farms (SSF)
  • Michael Montague, SEPA

Secretariat provided by Scottish Government officials.

Items and actions

Actions Agreed

Sector members (Mowi, Bakkafrost, SSF) to select pilot sites.

SG officials to refine paperwork in advance of the next meeting.

Note of last meeting

No comments.

Principles Document & Flowchart

Local Authority (LA) members stated that Northern Lighthouse Board should come later in the process as they are a statutory consultee to planning.

Sector members noted their desire to better understand the suggested stakeholder engagement event and who is involved; of the view that all stakeholders should be around the table as early as possible. The Consenting 
Task Group (CTG) needs to define who comes to these events. 

SEPA noted that advisory bodies are different to regulators; however, there is a need to focus on relevant bodies in terms of who comes to the stakeholder event.

LA members noted that stakeholder events should also include local community engagement, not just statutory bodies, so perhaps a 2nd meeting may be required.

LA members noted a recent and useful example of early engagement where SEPA, SG Marine Directorate – Licensing Operations Team (MD-LOT), NatureScot, Shetland Islands Council and Scottish Sea Farms met to discuss development proposals. 

The Chair asked if a period of consultation is required in this early stage to allow for meaningful consultation?

Sector members noted that local communities should have the opportunity at the earliest stage to see development proposals and offer feedback via a recognised body such as a community council, for example. 

Sector members were broadly accepting of the proposed trial process. However, they queried who leads on what, who produces the technical assessment, and timescales to respond to comments. They noted that it is important that the advisory bodies and regulators are present as early as possible to try to prevent the potential for last-minute showstoppers happening.

LA members noted that the focus needs to be on material considerations, but that other views should not be excluded.

LA members noted that the trial/pilot should allow the CTG to figure out what works best and how to capture information.

Sector members stated that community councils are inclusion mechanisms to allow all local community views to be represented in a balanced way, focused on the aspects of the specific development in the specific location. 

Scottish Government (SG) officials noted that the purpose of community engagement needs to be defined at each step. 

Sector members noted that all communities respond differently to approaches by the sector to engage at an early stage. The pilot will be a learning curve to help refine approach to this engagement. The sector noted that material considerations need to be the key focus of an early stakeholder engagement events. The organisation of events was discussed. The sector noted that the developer would cover costs of stakeholder events. 

LA members commented that a good chair of any event is important. The event would be to identify important issues (material considerations but not having a debate about them).

The Chair queried whether it would be worthwhile to identify a lead authority to chair.

Update on pilot selection

SG officials noted that the pilots were to take place in the Highland and Shetland Islands council areas. 

Action – Sector members (Mowi, Bakkafrost, SSF) to select pilot sites.

SG officials noted that the CTG Advisory Group appears to be in broad agreement on the content of the principles document and flowchart. 

Action – SG officials to refine paperwork in advance of the next meeting.

Sector members asked if the relevant LA planner would take the lead once consulted by the developer?

LA members responded that SEPA is likely to be the first point of contact, although planners would still need to be involved.

The Chair queried whether a key principal of the trial process is to determine who is the lead authority at the beginning?

SEPA noted that a SEPA officer would coordinate, with oversight from the SEPA. 

CTG members, and that SEPA would liaise with relevant LA planner.

Any other business

Next meeting – rearranged to Thursday 29 June, 1500-1600. 

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