Highly Protected Marine Areas - policy framework and site selection guidelines: partial BRIA

The partial business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA) presents an initial assessment of the potential costs, benefits and risks of introducing HPMAs and their potential impacts on public, private or third sectors.

3. Options

A non-regulatory option has not been considered going forward. This is in part due to the market failures stated above there is not real incentive to protect the marine environment by those who use it and therefore this option would be unlikely to achieve the aims of the policy.

3.1. Option 1: Do nothing

Option 1 is the 'Do nothing' option; this is the baseline scenario. Under this option, no additional powers would be sought provide competence to introduce HPMAs and no HPMAs will be introduced in Scottish Seas. The objectives of HPMAs will likely not be achieved.

3.2. Option 2: Introduce HPMA Policy Framework and Site Selection Guidelines

Under this option, the HPMA Policy Framework and Site Selection Guidelines will be adopted and new powers will be sought for Scottish Ministers to designate HPMAs in Scottish inshore waters. This will enable the five-stage site selection process, as set out in the Site Selection Guidelines, to be conducted, followed by a network level assessment, to select and assess a suite of HPMAs, as defined in the Policy Framework. Subject to consultation, Scottish Ministers will then formally designate HPMAs covering at least 10% of inshore and offshore waters by 2026.

3.2.1. Sectors and groups affected

The groups affected will span communities, society, businesses, industries and the public sector, now and in the future, directly or indirectly linked to the marine environment.


The following sectors in Scotland have been identified as likely to be affected by the introduction of HPMAs:

  • Aquaculture – Finfish
  • Aquaculture – Shellfish and Seaweed
  • Carbon Capture and Undersea Storage
  • Coast Protection and Flood Defence
  • Commercial Fisheries
  • Energy Generation
  • Military and Defence
  • Oil and Gas
  • Ports and Harbours
  • Power Interconnectors and Transmission Lines
  • Recreational Angling
  • Recreational Boating
  • Seabed Mining
  • Shipping
  • Telecommunication Cables
  • Tourism
  • Water Sports


A range of businesses will be affected directly by this legislation. These could include businesses of different sizes in each sector identified in the list above. There could also be businesses that are indirectly affected by the legislation such as fish processing businesses and businesses in the supply chain for the different sectors.


Communities affected by the legislation could include those communities directly or indirectly affected by a HPMA. Communities can have social and economic ties to the coast, potentially at some distance from the HPMA. The impacts will, therefore, not all be experienced within the area adjacent to the HPMA but potentially in numerous communities in a range of locations. Communities impacted by the legislation might include:

  • "Communities of place": the people who are connected through living in a particular place – in this case living in communities near an HPMA
  • "Community of practice": those who are connected through activities or livelihoods that they have in common even if they do not share the place.
  • "Community of interest": a community of people who share a common interest or passion but may not be linked in any other way. For example, this may include those with an interest in marine conservation

Public Sector

The Scottish Government and other public bodies and organisations will be affected by this legislation as there will be costs resulting from its introduction, monitoring and enforcement. Impacted bodies may include NatureScot, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Police Scotland and Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).

Scottish Government

Following a decision to designate individual sites, costs may be incurred by the public sector in the following broad areas:

  • Site monitoring and evaluation
  • Compliance and enforcement
  • Promotion of public understanding
  • Regulatory and advisory costs associated with licensing decisions and review of consents


Society as a whole may be impacted by the legislation, from perception of protection afforded to the marine environment to their direct interaction with it through marine ecosystem services.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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