Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) - site selection: draft guidelines

Guidelines describing the proposed process for identifying and selecting Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in Scottish waters. These were drafted by our statutory nature conservation advisors, NatureScot and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

5 Stakeholder engagement

The identification of HPMAs in Scotland's seas will be undertaken in collaboration with marine stakeholders, particularly those who have an interest in or may be affected by HPMA proposals. Marine Scotland, NatureScot and JNCC are committed to engaging with, and consulting with, all stakeholders at all key stages of policy development, site selection, assessment, and designation.

5.1 Third party proposals

The process outlined in these guidelines enables third parties to propose possible locations for HPMAs. Third party proposals will be considered on the basis of the contribution they could make in accordance with the selection process set out in Section 4 (see also Annexes A and B).

In relation to the requirements of the Bute House Agreement, our aim is to consider any proposals within the design process as early as possible. An opportunity for submission is expected following publication of the finalised selection guidelines in 2023. Beyond this initial submission period, the process will remain flexible and responsive to the provision of further supporting evidence but inevitably, a final deadline will need to be identified (see also Section 6 below).

A draft template setting out initial information requirements for third party proposals is provided in Annex C. The information requirements take account of the likelihood that third parties may not have access to the same level of evidence as statutory advisors to Scottish Government. On the basis of the information provided, NatureScot and / or JNCC will undertake a preliminary appraisal to determine the validity and merits of each proposal. Feedback will be provided to the third parties who submitted the proposal, and NatureScot and JNCC will work with them to feed in other relevant datasets to ensure an equitable assessment process.

Third party proposals will then be incorporated into wider processes and be subject to the same formal assessment, review and refinement stages as proposals developed by NatureScot and JNCC. All proposals, including those from third parties are therefore likely to evolve over the course of the HPMA process. NatureScot and JNCC will describe the fate of all third party proposals in their advice to Scottish Ministers. This will include providing a rationale for any proposals not considered to meet the requirements for site selection, which will also be communicated to the original proponents.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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