Publication - Strategy/plan

Marine litter strategy for Scotland

Published: 19 Aug 2014
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

A strategy to develop measures to minimise the amount of litter entering the marine and coastal environment.

Marine litter strategy for Scotland
Annex A Scottish Marine Litter Strategy Strategic Environmental Assessment Post Adoption SEA Statement

Annex A Scottish Marine Litter Strategy Strategic Environmental Assessment Post Adoption SEA Statement


1.1 Introduction

1.1.1 The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) 2005 Act (hereafter referred to as the 2005 Act) requires public bodies in Scotland to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) on their plans, programmes and strategies. SEA examines plans, programmes or strategies as they are developed, to identify any significant effects they may have on the environment. It ensures that environmental considerations are taken into account and, where required, proposes mitigation measures to avoid or minimise any potentially significant adverse effects on the environment. Where possible, opportunities to enhance environmental performance are identified.

1.1.2 Marine Scotland undertook a public consultation on a draft Scottish marine litter strategy from July to September 2013. The SEA Environmental Report that documented the potential significant effects of the marine litter strategy was made available for consultation alongside the draft programme of improvements. This SEA was taken forward by the Scottish Government's Environmental Assessment Team on behalf of Marine Scotland.

1.1.3 As required under the 2005 Act, this post adoption statement forms the final output from the SEA process. It outlines how the findings of the SEA and the views of consultees have been taken into account in the development of the marine litter strategy.

1.2 Structure of this Statement

1.2.1 Section 18(3) of the 2005 Act sets out the information that should be included in this post adoption SEA Statement. In summary, it should include:

  • How the environmental considerations raised in the SEA have been integrated into the plan, programme or strategy;
  • How the Environmental Report has been taken into account;
  • How the opinions of consultees have been taken into account;
  • The reasons for choosing the plan, programme or strategy as adopted, in light of the other reasonable alternatives considered; and
  • Measures to be taken to monitor the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the plan, programme or strategy.

1.3 Scottish Marine Litter Strategy

1.3.1 During Parliament's consideration of the Marine (Scotland) Act a commitment was given to develop a marine litter strategy. A strategy provides an opportunity to build on current initiatives, and make the overall effort a more coherent package, and meet international commitments under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) which requires Member States to achieve Good Environmental Status in their marine waters by 2020.

1.3.2 On 3 July 2013, Marine Scotland launched a public consultation on proposals for inclusion within a draft Scottish marine litter strategy. The proposals presented in the draft strategy covered three main areas:

  • Vision;
  • Five strategic directions in the areas of education, reducing inputs, seizing opportunities and economic growth, monitoring and engagement; and
  • Options for delivery of the marine litter policies.

1.3.3 In parallel, a consultation on a national litter strategy was launched on provisions to manage litter in Scotland's terrestrial environment.


2.1 Key findings of the Environmental Report

2.1.1 An Environmental Report was produced presenting the findings of the SEA undertaken on the draft strategy. Overall the SEA found that the marine litter strategy, together with the national litter strategy would be likely to have a positive effect for the environment in the long term in reducing litter and fly- tipped material, and a long term cumulative benefit for Scottish waters (and those of other North Atlantic states). The SEA also found that the efforts of the strategies to reduce and clear existing litter will also have long term benefits in terms of biodiversity, water quality, and improvements in amenity.

2.1.2 The possible effects on population and human health identified as a result of the proposals have been defined as a reduction in the risk of disease related to the incidence of bacterial contamination of water and reductions in litter sinks.

2.1.3 Existing litter in the seas still presents a risk but continuing the Fishing for Litter project will assist in reducing the amount of litter in the marine environment in the long term. This should be considered in more detail as the strategy develops, along with appropriate monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of such measures.

2.2 Consultation on the draft Scottish Marine Litter Strategy and Environmental report

2.2.1 The SEA Environmental Report on both the draft marine and national litter strategies, together with parallel consultations, were issued for public consultation in July 2013. There were 98 written responses to the consultation on the draft marine litter strategy. The respondents represented a wide range of stakeholders including public bodies, businesses and their industry representatives, environmental non-government organisations and private individuals. These responses have provided a range and depth of views on the draft marine litter strategy which have helped to shape the development of the final strategy. A report presenting an analysis of responses to the consultation on a Draft Scottish Marine Litter Strategy is available at :

2.2.2 Four responses were received to this statutory consultation on the Environmental Report, which comprised the three SEA Consultation Authorities (Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA), Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) and Historic Scotland) and a public body, Scottish Water. The following section summarises the key issues discussed in these responses.

2.2.3 There was general agreement with the approach taken in the SEA and with the baseline and assessment conclusions. However, SEPA, SNH and Scottish Water provided detail on relevant areas.

2.2.4 SEPA were of the view that monitoring mechanisms outlined in the marine litter strategy should be focussed on implementation rather than the problem itself. SEPA noted that existing monitoring actions should be strengthened to provide the baseline data required for MSFD. SEPA also identified a need for more research and monitoring, with a particular focus on microplastics. Their response also highlighted a need for co-ordination of effort with national and EU partners to develop and standardise methodology for monitoring. Additionally, a request to consider more use of monitoring opportunities in co- ordination with existing activities, such as fishing vessels and ferries.

Scottish Government response:

The strategy outlines action to:

  • Determine a baseline for coastal litter, seabed and water column, which can be used for Marine Strategy Framework Directive reporting purposes;
  • Prioritise an initial evaluation on the current state of research;
  • Undertake research to address key gaps in knowledge, including microplastics in the marine environment;
  • Develop and standardise methodology in co-ordination with national and EU partners; and
  • Consider better use of Marine Scotland research vessels to undertake seabed monitoring of marine litter during scientific trawls, and consider additional monitoring opportunities in other marine activities.

2.2.5 SNH commented on the importance of the marine and national litter strategies being aligned, with similar objectives.

Scottish Government response:

  • This strategy complements the national litter strategy, and while the two strategies have distinct outcomes, both have a focus on the prevention of litter. The alignment of the two strategies is demonstrated through the SEA process and the preparation of a joint SEA Environmental Report addressing both strategies.

2.2.6 Scottish Water highlighted that litter disposal into its systems should be controlled as a source point.

Scottish Government response:

The strategy outlines action to:

  • Work with Scottish Water on the scope to reduce Sewage Related Debris.
  • Address impacts of incorrect disposal of non-biodegradable waste on the water and waste network through education and awareness raising.

2.2.7 The RSPB recommended that the diagram in the SEA (page 4), outlining the policy context for the strategies, should include the Water Framework Directive.

Scottish Government response:

  • This comment is noted for inclusion in any future iteration of the marine litter strategy and accompanying SEA.