1.1 The Independent Review of Scottish Aquaculture Consenting ( ICR) was commissioned by Marine Scotland and The Crown Estate following concerns expressed over the aquaculture consenting regime in Scotland.
1.2 The project endeavoured to understand the inefficiencies, duplication or unnecessary complexities across the consenting regimes and whether the overall system fits the requirements and operation of those involved; namely the industry, planning authorities and other regulators.
1.3 The ICR was undertaken by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management in association with Ironside Farrar and was published in July 2016 (see http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/07/9269).
1.4 In order to understand the consenting process and gain an insight into its complexities, the contractors undertook a desk-based review as well as extensive consultation with the finfish and shellfish industry, regulators, consenting bodies and statutory consultees. We were encouraged by the level of stakeholder engagement to the consultative phase of the ICR and grateful to those who provided their views.
1.5 Scottish Ministers welcome the report and would like to thank Poseidon and Ironside Farrar for undertaking the Review; members of the steering group for providing guidance and advice; and the Capacity Working Group ( CWG) (set up as a working group of the then Ministerial Group on Sustainable Aquaculture) for providing further guidance and their views of the final report to Ministers.
1.6 The ICR makes a number of recommendations for improvement which fall into two main categories: eight quick wins and five longer-term options. This document reports the view of the CWG to those recommendations and Scottish Ministers' consideration of these.
1.7 This response reflects Scottish Government support of the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry with due regard to the wider environment and aspirations for high performing planning and licensing systems. It also recognises the broader project work being undertaken by the Scottish Government across a range of areas which has the potential to influence the aquaculture consenting process.
1.8 We are working with SEPA through our joint Better Environmental Regulation ( BER) Programme to provide more effective and efficient protection of the environment, a reduction in the regulatory burden on business and to allow regulators to take opportunities to improve the environment.
1.9 We are also undertaking broader work exploring the future of the Scottish planning system as a whole. A consultation paper, expected around the turn of the year, will aim to address the recommendations of the Planning Review, focusing on six key themes. The intention is to ensure the planning system in Scotland realises its full potential and works for a range of interests and stakeholders.
1.10 Ministers will make future decisions on longer-term alternative approaches for the aquaculture consenting process in the round and aligned with improvements being undertaken across government.