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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Marine Protected Areas ( MPAs)

101. The Act provides for Scottish Ministers to designate Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas, Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Areas and Historic Marine Protected Areas within the Scottish marine area (out to 12 nautical miles). This normally excludes land and waters upstream of the freshwater limit of estuarial waters. The UK Act created similar powers for Scottish Ministers to designate Marine Conservation Zones, essentially Nature Conservation MPAs and referred to as such, beyond 12 nautical miles.

102. Nature Conservation MPAs can be designated for conserving marine flora or fauna, including rare or threatened species, marine habitats or features of geological or geomorphological interest. Taken together with marine conservation zones designated in UK waters, and with other protected areas in the marine environment such as those designated under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, they form a network which contributes to the conservation or improvement of the marine environment both in the UK marine area and internationally.

103. Demonstration and Research MPAs can be designated for demonstration of sustainable methods of marine management or exploitation and/or for research into such matters. A designation should only remain in place for the length of time necessary to achieve the aims and objectives of the MPA and a review period will normally be defined.

104. Historic MPAs can be designated for preserving a marine historic asset of national importance according to guidelines published by Historic Scotland. Historic MPAs replace Section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 in Scotland which has been repealed. Historic MPA designation will normally be preferred to scheduling of monuments of national importance offshore.

105. In exercising any functions which may affect a MPA, a public authority must, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of its functions, do so in a way which it considers best furthers (or least hinders) the purpose or objectives of the MPA. For Nature Conservation MPAs, such an obligation also applies to furthering the contribution of that MPA to the network of conservation sites. In complying with these requirements, public authorities must have regard to any guidance issued for the purpose by Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage or Scottish Ministers on the protection of features.


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