Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs): consultation analysis - final report

Analysis report on the responses to the consultation on Scottish Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) which ran from 12 December 2022 to 17 April 2023.

Terminology, style and abbreviations


The titles of the five documents which formed the basis for this consultation – (i) the draft HPMA Policy Framework, (ii) the draft Site Selection Guidelines, (iii) the initial Sustainability Appraisal, (iv) the partial Island Communities Impact Assessment screening report, and (v) the partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment – are capitalised in Chapter 1 where these documents are introduced. Thereafter (from Chapter 2 onwards), the titles are not capitalised to make the text more readable. The fourth and fifth documents are abbreviated as ‘partial ICIA screening report’, and ‘partial BRIA’, respectively.

Style (use of quotation marks)

Throughout this report, single quotation marks (‘) are used to indicate where the (exact) words of a respondent’s comments are reported verbatim.


The following terms and abbreviations are used in this report.

  • Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA): A process of estimating the costs, benefits and risks of proposed legislation, voluntary regulation, codes of practice or guidance that may impact on the public, private or third sector.
  • Bute House Agreement: A shared policy programme agreed between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens in August 2021. It focuses on areas of mutual interest in relation to climate emergency, economic recovery, child poverty, the natural environment, energy and the constitution.
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): The UK Government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities.
  • Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs): Areas of the sea that are given a high level of protection to allow the protection and full recovery of marine ecosystems. The current consultation has proposed to establish 10% of Scottish inshore and offshore waters as HPMAs.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): A membership body that brings government and civil society organisations together with a global network of experts to promote conservation and sustainable development. The consultation proposed that HPMAs would broadly align with the three most strictly protected categories (Ia – strict nature reserve, Ib – wilderness area, and II – national park) as set out in the Guidelines for Applying the IUCN’s Protected Area Management Categories to Marine Protected Areas.
  • Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA): Required by Section 7 of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018, an ICIA is a process that public authorities must use to identify the impacts that policies, strategies or services might have on island communities in Scotland.
  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Protected sites with a marine element, this can be a generic term to include Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and MPA sites. Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 there are three types of designation – nature conservation, historic, and demonstration and research.
  • Priority Marine Features (PMF): A defined list of 81 habitats and species considered to be of conservation importance in Scotland’s seas, adopted by Scottish Ministers in 2014.
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 sets out a requirement for certain public plans, programmes and strategies to be assessed for their potential effects on the environment. The process of fulfilling this requirement is called a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
  • Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA): A process which aims to identify and assess the potential social and economic effects (positive and negative) of a proposed development or policy on the lives and circumstances of people and their communities.
  • Qualitative analysis: The analysis of non-numerical data, used in the current consultation analysis process to identify themes in the comments made by respondents to the consultation.
  • Quantitative analysis: The analysis of numerical data is derived in the current consultation from the responses to multiple-choice tick-box questions.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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