Aquaculture Consenting Task Group - Advisory Group minutes: May 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 19 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Other Organisation

  • Anne Anderson, Scottish Sea Farms
  • Professor Russel Griggs, Independent
  • 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 (Chair)
  • Jamie Barnes, Aquaculture Planning and Consenting Policy Manager 
  • Iain Laing, Improvement Adviser


  • Kieran McQuaid, Performance and Change Lead, SG
  • Malcolm Pentland, Deputy Director, Seafood Trade, Aquaculture and Recreational Fisheries, SG
  • Alex Jasinski, Aquaculture Planning Policy Support Officer, SG
  • Professor Dickon Howell, Howell Marine Consulting

Secretariat provided by Scottish Government officials.

Items and actions

Actions Agreed

SG officials to refine paperwork and include flowchart for draft management framework.

Introduction and Minutes from previous meeting

Scottish Government (SG) officials provided a recap from the last meeting on 28 April 2023 and the minutes were agreed.

Sector members welcomed the production of the Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) report and request that it is kept in mind throughout the work of the Consenting Task Group (CTG).

Draft outline Management Framework

SG officials introduced the document.

SEPA noted that work to be done to join up SEPA and Local Authority (LA) regarding information sharing.

Sector members noted that the developer would take the lead to ensure that all information was submitted by them to the relevant regulators at the same time.

The need for timescales for each stage was identified. 

Each of the stages needs to have the steps further defined. 

The independent adviser suggested that information sharing agreements may be required to support the pilots. 

Sector members highlighted the importance of the pre-pre-app work done by developers, and considered it would be a mistake to exclude certain agencies at step 1.

SEPA highlighted that steps 1 and 2 are designed to prepare the key regulators and developer for the wider engagement at step 3.

The independent adviser noted that if certain bodies are not going to be there at the different steps they need to know why and to agree to that. 

There was a discussion on pre application forms. 

SG officials noted that steps 1-3 can be refined through further discussion. Also noted was that the onus would be on the developer to trigger the process, and then for the relevant regulators and statutory consultees to engage. 

The independent adviser noted that it must be considered where the community come into this process.

SG officials noted that the group needs to develop how community engagement is incorporated. 

SG officials noted that there are 6 principles, but that the 6 stages can be condensed and broken down within these.

LA members noted that ‘screening’ terminology in step 2 and 4 could be referred to as pre-app, as screening/scoping is connected to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). Therefore, current LA EIA templates could be updated as an opportunity here.

Sector members and SEPA noted that a pilot is the opportunity to draw out where the duplications are so that they can be rectified. 

SEPA and LA members see ‘screening’ terminology differently. SEPA see it as an initial assessment, whereas LAs see it as linked to EIA. The terminology needs to be agreed and set for any pilot to avoid confusion. 

Sector members asked that the group considers potential duplication at all stages.  

LA members noted that EIAs need to be clear and proportionate, and the findings of a pilot should support industry members’ ask regarding removing duplication. 

SEPA noted that ‘screening’ in this context is one step for the developer to consult both SEPA and the LA to determine requirements, be it EIA or otherwise.

Sector members suggested that developer members working in the application process and regulator case officers could spend time together to refine the practical detail of how this draft process would work in practice.

SG officials noted that they would return to the document to refine it following this discussion, and to follow up on the sectors request for a technical session.  

Next Steps

SEPA suggested that the best applications to pilot would be early-stage applications, noting that SEPA are ready to go.

SG officials noted that they will begin to publicly share the draft blueprint flowchart for the pilot (shared at the Stirling workshop) and that the CTG has agreed that Shetland and Highland will participate in the pilot. 

Information sharing practices were discussed. 

Action – SG officials to refine paperwork and include flowchart for draft management framework.

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