Publication - Consultation paper

Protected areas for mobile marine species: consultation on proposals to designate four new Marine Protected Areas in Scottish waters

Published: 7 Jun 2019
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

An overview of the consultation on proposals to designate four new Marine Protected Areas in Scottish waters, including short summaries of the available documentation.

Protected areas for mobile marine species: consultation on proposals to designate four new Marine Protected Areas in Scottish waters
Sustainability Appraisal

Sustainability Appraisal

Scottish Ministers may have regard "to any social or economic consequences of designation" when considering whether it is desirable to designate an area as an MPA.

The Sustainability Appraisal is informed by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA).The purpose of the Sustainability Appraisal is to inform the scientific recommendations with the social, economic and wider environmental considerations, without losing sight of the overall benefits of the Scottish MPA network. The Sustainability Appraisal also considers questions of displacement.

For the assessments, three management scenarios were developed based on management advice from SNH. These scenarios represent a range of potential management measures that could be adopted at the four possible sites following designation. If it were decided that management measures were required, these would be subject to separate assessment and further public consultation. Further information on the management scenarios is outlined in Section 3.4 of the SEA report.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The SEA identifies the likely significant environmental impacts of the four possible sites and considers reasonable alternatives to them. The SEA also identifies mitigation measures that are required to avoid or minimise any significant adverse effects and highlights opportunities for enhancements of beneficial effects.

The SEA has considered the potential effects of the four possible sites on the environment. Overall, they will have benefits for biodiversity (for both flora and fauna) and geodiversity. There may also be spill over benefits outside the sites, where the size of the population within the site exceeds the maximum that can be sustained. There is also potential for adverse environmental effects from the displacement of fishing activity from the possible sites to other areas.

The combination of the four possible MPAs has the potential to provide beneficial environmental effects. They could also act in-combination with the existing MPA network, increasing the beneficial environmental effects. There are potential cumulative adverse effects from the displacement of fishing activity.

Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SEIA)

The SEIA aims to identify and assess the potential economic and social effects of the four possible sites on the lives and circumstances of people, their families and communities. The assessment investigates the potential cumulative economic benefits and costs, and associated potential social impacts, of implementing the proposed management scenarios at each individual site. It also considers the potential economic benefits and costs, and associated social impacts, of implementing the suite of measures overall. The assessment provides the Scottish Government with evidence on economic and social effects to inform the BRIA for each possible MPA.

Potential quantified and non-quantified costs have been identified for different activities and sectors. Table 1 below shows the assessment of national impacts of the four possible sites on each sector, and shows the possible variation in cost impact depending on three management scenarios. The figures are not annual cost impacts, but are discounted costs spread over 20 years.

The most significant potential costs may be incurred by the oil and gas sector, power interconnectors and transmission lines, and the commercial fisheries sector (note costs are expressed in terms of impacts to direct Gross Value Added (GVA), based on the estimated value of landings affected). The estimates do not take account of mitigation or adaptation that could be put in place.

Table 1: Present value (PV) in £'000 for quantified national cost impacts to human activities (costs discounted over assessment period (2019-2038), 2019 prices)

Sector Lower Estimate Intermediate Estimate Upper Estimate
Finfish aquaculture 39 269 407
Shellfish aquaculture 76 76 76
Carbon capture and storage 5 5 554
Coastal protection 49 49 49
Commercial fisheries (direct GVA) 0 1,481 2,892
Energy generation 0 0 548
Military activities 195 195 195
Oil and gas 0 0 7,502
Ports and harbours 179 179 182
Power interconnectors 6 6 1,066
Recreational boating 0 0 1
Shipping 0 0 1
Telecom cables 16 16 331
Tourism 0 0 0
Water Sports 0 0 0

The cost impacts shown here are national and there is significant variation in costs by site. The site-specific sections later in this document describe cost estimates for individual sectors by site, which is also discussed in Section 4 of the SEIA.

It is not considered likely that consequential social impacts, such as on culture, heritage, crime, health, education, access to services, or changes in the local environment, will occur in the local communities affected.

The sites support a range of ecosystem services which provide benefits to people and the environment. However, it is difficult to assess the value and changes to these services with a high degree of certainty. It is, therefore, not possible to estimate the site-level value of benefits. However, based on studies of non-use values (i.e. the benefit people get simply from being aware of a diverse and sustainable marine environment even if they do not themselves 'use it'), the SEIA suggests the benefits of designation of all four possible sites to be over £25 million, much greater than the total potential costs.

Summary of Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) screening

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 provides for a new duty on Scottish Ministers and other relevant public bodies where they must have regard to island communities in exercising their functions. The process for carrying out Island Communities Impact Assessments (ICIA) is not wholly developed at this early stage, following the recent passing of the Act. The draft screening under the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 found that no ICIA assessment was required, but this outcome will be reviewed after the consultation.