Aquaculture: Consenting Task Group minutes - February 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 3 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Other organisations

  • Professor Dickon Howell, Howell Marine Consulting (Chair)
  • Alex Adrian, Crown Estate Scotland (CES)
  • Michael Montague, SEPA
  • Peter Pollard, SEPA
  • Professor Russel Griggs, Independent
  • John Webster, British Trout Association 
  • Oliver Robinson, British Trout Association
  • Dave Cockerill, Bakkafrost
  • Douglas Hunter, Mowi
  • Laura Tulip, Mowi
  • Simon Pallant, Shetland Islands Council
  • Iain McDiarmid, Heads of Planning Representative, 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
  • Aleksander Jasinski, Aquaculture Planning Policy Support Officer
  • Ruairidh Anderson, Senior Policy Manager, Planning
  • Anni Makela, Marine Licensing Group Leader
  • Zoe Crutchfield, Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team Head
  • Charles Allan, Fish Health Inspectorate Group Leader
  • Emma Harding, Deputy Director, Environmental Quality and Resilience
  • Kieran McQuaid, Performance and Change Lead


  • Malcolm Pentland, Deputy Director, Seafood Trade, Aquaculture and Recreational Fisheries, SG
  • Iain Laing, Improvement Adviser, SG
  • Lorraine Gormley, Water Environment Team Leader, SG
  • Mark Harvey, Highland Council
  • Anne Anderson, Scottish Sea Farms

Secretariat provided by Scottish Government officials.

Items and actions

Actions agreed

  • SG officials to reissue the PID and minute of meeting during w/c 6 February.
  • SG officials to reissue the PID during w/c 6 February.

Welcome, introductions, and apologies

Introductions were made by the Chair and SG officials, and apologies noted.  

Minutes and actions of previous meeting (Consenting Task Group-01)

No comments were received.  

Matters arising

Members queried whether the scope of the project would cover areas such as Permitted Development Rights (PDR), shellfish, and community engagement. SG officials said that the focus of the project is on finfish consenting and development which goes through pre-application and application decision processes requiring community consultation. While the first stage of the consenting project will not be looking at PDR or shellfish, as it progresses it will identify other areas for further work.  Community involvement will be mapped. The independent advisor asked whether the science involved in aquaculture applications required an independent adjudicator. SG officials referred to the role of the Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) in the wider regulatory review of aquaculture consenting and that the CTG was formed to look at processes.

CES suggested that when considering pre-application, there might be a need for a written formalisation, as an example, of how this can be done productively and well. 

Project Initiation Document (PID) overview

In introducing the PID to the group, SG officials said that the intention is to focus on pre-application model which was agreed at SAC.  SG officials emphasised that this was a first draft and the phases and activities set out will be amended by findings of the process. It does not seek to be too prescriptive on process and product.  The intention is for the LEAN mapping to guide the issues.   

Shetland Islands Council asked about community engagement in the proposed pre-application stage. SG officials confirmed that coordination of consultation/engagement is a key focus of the exercise.

Industry noted there is currently no formal or statutory process set out for community engagement and advised that they undertake extensive community engagement as part of the preapplication process. Regarding the suggestion of a more formal process of community engagement there was a question about how the success of this would be measured. SG officials confirmed that this would be subject to undertaking a baseline exercise.  CES suggested that there may be lessons to be learned about community engagement from wind farming application and consultation phases. 

Project phases and timetable to June 2023

SG officials reported on two meetings of a smaller project advisory group held in January with SG officials, Highland Council, SEPA and industry representatives. The meetings discussed testing the proposed new model by a study of recent applications.  It was agreed that this should be done in a workshop format using a LEAN methodology. Advice from SG improvement specialists and LEAN colleagues should be sought. 

The sites for consideration at the first workshop (to be held in March) were agreed: Loch Hourn, Flodigarry, Strome, and Aird (Highland). It was suggested a second workshop could follow and include sites from other local authorities in order to consider other issues and other local authority processes. 

In advance of the workshops, the SEPA and Highland planning processes will be mapped, and the results brought to the workshops to identify touch points and inform new processes using the LEAN approach.  It is envisaged that significant work will be required in advance of the workshops and will be guided by the project advisory group.

The workshop approach and selection of the sites was agreed by the group.  

Industry welcomed the LEAN approach and asked if training could be available for CTG members The value in building capacity of the group in LEAN and continuous improvement was recognised as useful and SG officials suggested potential LEAN training could be explored. 

Industry and CES discussed the Lease Option Agreement (LOA) with regards to the securing a seabed lease on a particular site and time lapses in the process.

The Chair noted that SG officials would revise and resubmit the PID to the CTG in line with comments from this meeting. 

Action: SG officials to reissue the PID and minute of meeting during w/c 6 February.

Any other business

The Fish Health Inspectorate (SG) queried the opportunity within the CTG work to look at cumulative effects assessment. The Chair outlined that this could be considered as part of the LEAN work in the workshops. 

Next meeting

The Chair requested that all meetings be outlined (where possible) in the delivery schedule section of the PID so that the aims of all future meetings of the CTG proper, smaller project advisory group are clear. 

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