Planning Circular 1/2015: relationship between the statutory land use planning system and marine planning and licencing

The circular explains the relationship between the marine and terrestrial planning systems, including related regimes such as marine licencing and consenting for offshore energy generation, ports and harbours development and aquaculture.

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Conservation of Seals

106. The Scottish Government has responsibility for the conservation and management of seal populations in Scottish waters. The Act introduced enhanced seal protection measures whilst allowing for appropriate management under a new seal licensing system.

107. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly injure, kill or take a live seal at any time (except under licence or for animal welfare reasons) or to harass seals at designated haul-out sites. Scottish Ministers may also designate an area as a seal conservation area where they consider it is necessary to do so to ensure the proper conservation of seals.

108. The potential for development to impact on seal conservation objectives may be material to some planning decisions, notably for fish farm development but also potentially for other developments, including those associated with renewable energy development. This may include impacts on areas that are important for seals, including seal conservation areas and designated seal haul-outs.

109. The Scottish Government web site provides further information on designated seal haul-outs and guidance on harassment.

Further copies and enquiries

Any enquiries about the content of this Circular should be addressed to The Planning and Architecture Division, Scottish Government, 2H - South, Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ (Telephone 0131 244 7888). Copies of the circular may be obtained from the Scottish Government website at


Email: Planning and Architecture Division,

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