The 6 th of April 2011 saw the introduction of a new marine licensing regime for Scotland's seas. The new system, ushered in under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, provides a more equitable, efficient and streamlined licensing process for both applicant and regulator while balancing the risks and minimising the adverse impacts of activity on the environment, human health and legitimate uses of the sea.
The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 allows the Scottish Ministers to prescribe that certain activities that fall below a specified threshold of environmental impact that would, under the existing scheme, ordinarily require a marine licence need not be licensed, but may be registered instead. This would allow low environmental impact activity to go ahead without unnecessary time and cost penalties associated with going through the licence application process.
At the other end of the scale, the 2010 Act also allows the Scottish Ministers to classify that licence applications for certain classes or descriptions of licensable marine activity are subject to pre-application consultation. This would apply to large scale projects with the potential for significant effects to the environment and local communities. Pre-application consultation would allow communities and stakeholders with concerns about such projects to become fully engaged in the marine licensing decision making process.
However, before these new processes can be introduced to augment the current licensing system, secondary legislation will need to be laid before the Scottish Parliament. This consultation seeks the views of stakeholders in industry, government, voluntary organisations, special interest groups and individuals in order to inform that legislation.
I hope that you are able to contribute your views on these proposals and invite you to let us know what you think.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment