Scottish Ministers may have regard "to any social or economic consequences of designation" when considering whether it is desirable to designate an area under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
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 is informed by a Strategic Environmental Assessment and a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment.
The Sustainability Appraisal for the Deep Sea Marine Reserve proposal was developed at the same time as the site selection process was undertaken and therefore contains information on both search areas. However, as outlined above, Ministers have only selected the West of Scotland area to be taken forward to consultation. Therefore the information in subsequent sections is focused solely on West of Scotland.
Strategic Environmental Assessment
The Strategic Environmental Assessment identifies the likely significant environmental impacts of the proposed plan, and considers reasonable alternatives to them. The SEA also identifies mitigation measures that are required to avoid or minimise any significant adverse effects such as the impacts of displacement and highlights opportunities for enhancements of beneficial effects.
Socio-Economic Impact Assessment
The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment aims to identify and assess the potential economic and social effects on the lives and circumstances of people, their families and their communities. The assessment investigates the potential cumulative economic benefits and costs, and associated potential social impacts of implementing the proposed management scenarios at the proposed site. The assessment also provides the Scottish Government with evidence on the economic and social effects to inform the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment for the West of Scotland.
While the management measures are not known, three scenarios were developed to represent a range of potential management 'reasonable alternatives' which could be adopted following designation:
- Lower Scenario: Existing fisheries management and consenting processes;
- Intermediate Scenario: No extractive activities that affect the seabed (e.g. demersal fisheries, oil and gas development etc.); and
- Upper Scenario: No extractive activities that affect the seabed or the water column (e.g. demersal and pelagic fisheries, oil and gas exploration and development etc.).
The management scenarios are provided for indicative purposes and do not constrain future decisions or represent the final management measures that may be adopted or are subsequently required to meet the objectives of the proposed site.
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