Draft Scottish Marine Litter Strategy Consultation

Marine litter impacts on Scotland’s society, economy and marine environment. The draft strategy we consult on will aim to address the levels of marine litter present in our marine and coastal environment.

Annex C: Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

Title of Proposal

Consultation on Draft Scottish Marine Litter Strategy

Purpose and intended effect

  • Background

Marine litter is a global problem which can be a threat to ecosystems, has socio-economic cost and can also pose a threat to human health. During the Scottish Parliament's consideration of the Marine (Scotland) Act a commitment was given to develop a Marine Litter Strategy.

  • Objective

The draft Marine Litter Strategy seeks to build on the strengths of existing measures, identify proposals that will help overcome weaknesses, and maximise opportunities and minimise threats to addressing the levels of litter present in the coastal and marine environment.

  • Rationale for Government intervention

A research report commissioned by the Scottish Government found that the approximate economic cost of the marine litter problem in Scotland is £16.8 million per annum 23 . The draft Marine Litter Strategy provides an opportunity to build on current initiatives to reduce marine litter and consider what additional work or interventions may be of value at the national level to enhance and take forward the overall aims of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD).

Tackling marine litter supports our National Performance Framework objective of valuing and enjoying our built and natural environment and protecting it and enhancing it for future generations.


  • Within Government

Discussions have taken place with Marine Scotland Analytical Unit, Scottish Government Zero Waste Team, Scottish Government Planning and Architecture Division, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, as part of the development of the draft Marine Litter Strategy.

  • Public and Business Consultation

As part of a forthcoming 4-month consultation on the draft Marine Litter Strategy. Informal discussions have been held with a variety of organisations that have a policy interest in marine litter. This BRIA supports a consultation which will provide further opportunity for individuals and businesses to express their views.

It should be noted that Scotland's draft Marine Litter Strategy will not of itself introduce any new regulatory burdens. The Scottish Government will consult widely on any future regulations considered under the strategy with full Business Regulatory Impact Assessments produced as required.


Option A: Do Nothing - Business as usual

This option assumes that existing work by Government continues but is not supplemented by further work.

Key existing areas of work include:

EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This Directive requires Member States to achieve good environmental status ( GES) in their marine waters by 2020. The Directive prescribes the key steps which Member States must take to achieve GES:

  • The establishment and implementation of a monitoring programme for on-going assessment by July 2014; and
  • The development of a programme of measures by 2015, which must be implemented by the end of 2016.

The Directive defines GES in terms of 11 descriptors. Descriptor 10 requires litter to be at levels where the "properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment". This will require a better understanding of the environmental impacts of marine litter, and if necessary, action will be taken to reduce the amount of litter in the marine environment.

The outcome of a joint consultation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, in 2012, proposed that the target for marine litter on coastlines should be an "Overall reduction in the number of visible litter items within specific categories/types on coastlines from 2010 levels by 2020".

Scotland's Zero Waste Plan, June 2010. This sets out the Scottish Government's vision for a zero waste society where all waste is seen as a resource; waste is minimised; valuable resources are not disposed of in landfills, and most waste is sorted, leaving only limited amounts to be treated. To achieve this vision the Plan sets out radical new measures, including:

  • Development of a Waste Prevention Programme for all wastes, ensuring the prevention and reuse of waste is central to all our actions and policies.
  • Landfill bans for specific waste types therefore reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and capturing the value from these resources.
  • Separate collections of specific waste types, including food, to avoid contaminating other materials, increasing reuse and recycling opportunities and contributing to our renewable energy targets.
  • Two new targets that will apply to all waste: 70 per cent target recycled, and maximum 5 per cent sent to landfill, both by 2025.
  • Restrictions on the input to all energy from waste facilities, in the past only applicable to municipal waste, therefore encouraging greater waste prevention, reuse and recycling.
  • Encouraging local authorities and the resource management sector to establish good practice commitments and work together to create consistent waste management services, benefitting businesses and the public.
  • Improved information on different waste sources, types and management highlighting further economic and environmental opportunities.
  • Measure the carbon impacts of waste to prioritise the recycling of resources which offer the greatest environmental and climate change outcomes.

Option B: Take more radical steps to reduce marine litter

The draft Marine Litter Strategy contains questions on five Strategic Directions and possible areas for action. The possible actions identified are tentative at this stage and in some cases would need further consultation, with appropriate Impact Assessments. The table below outlines the actions suggested in the consultation; whether further consultation would take place before implementation; and whether there is an impact on or cost to business.

Table 1: Business impacts of draft Marine Litter Strategy actions

Proposed action

Further consultation?

Impact on/cost to business?

Raising Awareness and public participation targeted campaigns.


No direct impact.

Encourage producers to change manufacturing design of products commonly found in the marine environment e.g. alternatives to plastic in cotton bud sticks.


Depends on whether any further action is taken and what the nature of any action is.

Expand Fishing for Litter initiative to significantly increase awareness of impact of, and contribute to a reduction in marine litter.


No direct impact.

Incorporate marine litter reduction into regional marine plans under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.


Possibly, depending on waste prevention actions added.

Seek investment for environmental and clean technologies that facilitate recovery, recycling, and environmental monitoring in coastal and maritime industries.


Potentially implications for businesses, depending on nature of any further action.

Alignment of Non-Governmental Organisations, Scottish, UK and international monitoring programmes and data.


No direct impact.

Develop a baseline for coastal litter, seabed and water column which can be used for Marine Strategy Framework Directive monitoring purposes.


No direct impact.

Prioritise an initial evaluation on the current state of research to give a scientific and technical basis for monitoring, knowledge gaps and priority areas for research.


No direct impact.

Develop/test standardised monitoring approaches to allow comparisons at the National and EU scales.


No direct impact.

Better use of fisheries research vessels to undertake seabed monitoring of marine litter during scientific trawls.


No direct impact.

Monitoring programme for microscopic plastic particles.


No direct impact.

  • Costs and Benefits

Sectors and groups affected

  • Users of the marine environment and coastal communities.
  • Marine fisheries and coastal aquaculture.
  • Shipping and offshore industries.
  • Local authorities.
  • Householders.
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
  • Scottish Water.


Potential benefits from Scotland's draft Marine Litter Strategy include:

  • Complements proposed action under Scotland's National Litter Strategy.
  • Contributes to international action through the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
  • Co-ordination of initiatives aimed at reducing marine litter.
  • Increased environmental awareness generally, amongst business and householders.
  • Opportunity to address data capture at Scottish scale.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment, on which the Scottish Government is consulting in parallel, outlines the impact on the environment of the draft Marine Litter Strategy.

Existing costs to business of Option A (business as usual)

  • Scotland's Zero Waste Plan, published in 2010, set the strategic direction for waste

policy for Scotland. The attached report 'Economic Assessment of the Zero Waste Plan for Scotland' is available at: http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/ZWPcostbenefit

Potential costs to business of Option B

As indicated in Table 1, a number of the proposed actions suggested in the draft Marine Litter Strategy would have little or no impact on business. Costs will be determined and set out in Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments prepared as part of any future consultation exercise.

  • Scottish Firms Impact Test

Any changes to be adopted under the Marine Litter Strategy will be fully consulted on and will take account of any costs to Scottish Firms.

  • Competition Assessment

There is no direct impact on competition arising from the draft Strategy at this stage.

Will the proposal directly limit the number or range of suppliers?


Will the proposal indirectly limit the number or range of suppliers?


Will the proposal limit the ability of suppliers to compete?


Will the proposal reduce suppliers' incentives to compete vigorously?


  • Test run of business forms

No new forms are proposed at this stage.

Legal Aid Impact Test

We have liaised with the Scottish Government Civil Law and Legal System Division and it is agreed that the proposals will not have a significant impact on the legal aid fund.

Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring

There are no direct sanctions arising from the draft Marine Litter Strategy.

As outlined in the draft Marine Litter Strategy, as the Strategy will form part of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, it is proposed that the Strategy timeframe should be closely aligned with that of the Marine Strategy Framework.

Implementation and delivery plan

It is proposed that the initial period for a draft Marine Litter Strategy would be to 2020 with the achievement of Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. A review of its effectiveness should be completed and further measures considered at this stage.

Post-implementation review

A review is proposed for 2015 to coincide with work on the development of a programme of measures, with a further review to follow in 2018. The vision for the strategy (and any revisions to the Strategy) could extend beyond 2020 with any further measures considered at this stage.

Summary and recommendation

Option A (existing work)

  • Work highlighted under option A will continue.

Option B

  • Scottish Government is committed to developing a Marine Litter Strategy. The draft strategy sets out a number of possible actions that the Scottish Government, and others could take to address the levels of marine and coastal litter in Scotland.

It is the recommendation of the Scottish Government that existing work as set out under Option A should continue with possible additional measures, informed by responses to the consultation, considered under Option B.

Table 2: Benefits and costs of each option considered




A (existing work)

Achievement of Good Environmental Status under Descriptor 10 of Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Many of cost estimates currently based on scenarios rather than informed estimates.

B (Other measures as set out in draft Marine Litter Strategy)

Benefits arising will principally be reduced costs to the economy and society. Specific benefits will be considered and set out in any Business Regulatory Impact Assessment developed as part of future statutory consultation exercises for individual actions.

Costs will be determined and set out in Business Regulatory Impact Assessment prepared as part of any future consultation exercise for individual actions.

Declaration and publication

I have read the impact assessment and I am satisfied that, given the available evidence, it represents a reasonable view of the likely costs, benefits and impact of the leading options. I am satisfied that business impact will be assessed with the support of businesses in Scotland.



Richard Lochhead MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment

Scottish Government Contact point:

Nikki Milne, Marine Scotland ( nikki.milne@scotland.gsi.gov.uk)


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