2.1.1 The Seaweed Policy Statement Consultation Document (the Consultation Document) is the vehicle for consultation on the proposed Seaweed Policy Statement ( SPS) currently being developed by Marine Scotland. The Consultation Document has been prepared to engage with stakeholders and other interested parties on policies being considered for inclusion in the proposed SPS, and to seek views on a range of issues relating to the future growth of the seaweed cultivation and wild harvesting industries in Scotland.
2.1.2 The finalisation of the SPS, resulting from this consultation, should facilitate the growth of the industry by setting out the Scottish Government's policy on the suitability of seaweed cultivation in different scenarios. It will also explore the most suitable regime for licensing seaweed cultivation and indicate the issues considered in determining whether a proposal is acceptable, such as the species to be cultivated, and the scale of development planned. It will provide greater certainty for the industry at an early stage in its development, informing potential developers of the Government's expectations, while ensuring that activities which may have an environmental impact are understood and mitigated.
2.2 The Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) Process
2.2.1 The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Act) requires that certain public plans, programmes and strategies ( PPS) be assessed for their potential effects on the environment. Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) is the process used for fulfilling this requirement, and includes consultation with the public and the Consultation Authorities  . The Act also sets out the information that is required to be provided in an Environmental Report. The Consultation Document for the SPS falls under Section 5(4) of the Act.
2.2.2 Marine Scotland undertook screening and determined, as the Responsible Authority, that the policies contained within the Consultation Document have the potential to give rise to significant environmental effects, both adverse and beneficial, and that an environmental assessment would therefore be undertaken  . A scoping exercise was undertaken and a Scoping Report was prepared and issued to the Consultation Authorities in September 2012, setting out details of the proposed scope and level of detail of, and approach to, the SEA.
2.3 Purpose of this Report
2.3.1 The purpose of this Environmental Report is to document and set out the findings of the SEA undertaken by the Scottish Government's Environmental Assessment Team, on behalf of Marine Scotland, in accordance with the requirements of the Act.
2.3.2 The views of the public and the Consultation Authorities on this report are now being sought.
2.4 Content of this Report
2.4.1 This Environmental Report is structured as follows:
- Section 1: Non-Technical Summary
- Section 2: Introduction outlining the Consultation Document, the SEA process and the purpose of this report.
- Section 3: Context for the Consultation Document and the proposed SPS, outlining objectives, content, relationship with other plans, programmes, strategies, and the current regulatory framework in Scotland.
- Section 4: The scope and methodology of the SEA.
- Section 5: Background information on seaweed, its role in marine and coastal environments, its production and use, and an overview of Scotland's wild seaweed stocks.
- Section 6: The environmental baseline relevant to the assessment, the likely evolution of the baseline without the policies detailed in the Consultation Document and an outline of alternatives considered in the assessment.
- Section 7: The findings of the assessment of commercial seaweed cultivation and IMTA, including recommendations for mitigation of potential environmental impacts.
- Section 8: The findings of the assessment of commercial harvesting in the wild, including recommendations for mitigation of potential environmental impacts.
- Section 9: Assessment of reasonable alternatives.
- Section 10: Assessment of cumulative and synergistic effects.
- Section 11: Summary of assessment findings.
- Section 12: Proposals for monitoring.
- Section 13: Details of the consultation timescale and next steps.