5 How the Opinions Expressed Have Been Taken into Account
5.1.1 Marine Scotland held a supplementary consultation on the proposals from 17 June to 29 July 2019. The 2019 Updated Environmental Report was published for consultation alongside the supplementary consultation paper, a comments log presenting individual responses to comments received during the consultation on the 2018 Environmental Report, and Final Advice from NatureScot and JNCC on a network of marine pSPAs.
5.1.2 Views were invited on the following four questions in relation to the pSPAs:
1. With respect to the SEA process, do you have any comments on the updated Environmental Report?
2. Do you have any comments on the SEA Reasonable Alternatives?
3. With respect to the classification of SPAs, do you agree with the preferred policy recommendation, and if not why not?
4. Do you prefer the option to classify Orkney Inshore Waters pSPA or the alternative option to classify North Orkney pSPA and Scapa Flow pSPA? What are the reasons for your preference?
5.1.3 In total, nine respondents provided responses for the consultation. Eight of the respondents gave permission for their response to be made public. The respondent categories comprised Environmental; Fishing Group or Organisation; Ports; Other Industry; and Regulator or Local Authority.
5.1.4 Two respondents considered the 2019 Updated Environmental Report to be far clearer and more comprehensive than the previous 2018 Environmental Report. Two other respondents had concerns over the robustness of the baseline description and assessment. The remaining respondents had no specific comments regarding the SEA process and 2019 Updated Environmental Report apart from those addressed by the other consultation questions.
5.1.5 Two respondents found the SEA Reasonable Alternatives to be more clearly set out and considered the updated assessment to more closely align with the requirements of the 2005 Act. Two respondents considered a number of the alternatives not to be reasonable as they reduce protection of marine birds and may not fulfil the aims of the Birds Directive. Three respondents considered some of the options to go above and beyond the statutory requirements for SPA classification under the Birds Directive. Two respondents considered that the SEA had failed to comply with the 2005 Act as not all reasonable alternatives had been considered, including the option of not designating some of the sites. One respondent was unclear on the justification for certain alternatives.
5.1.6 Four respondents were supportive of the preferred policy recommendation to classify pSPAs, three respondents had no strong view or comment, one respondent did not agree, and one respondent did not answer the question but had concerns with the age and validity of the bird data used to underpin the proposals.
5.1.7 Three respondents preferred the option to classify Orkney Inshore Waters pSPA as this would result in benefits in terms of management, monitoring and protection. Four respondents did not have a strong view on the fourth question. One respondent preferred the alternative option to classify North Orkney pSPA and Scapa Flow pSPA due to the heterogeneity that they show. One respondent felt strongly that a case for classifying either 2 separate or a single marine SPA had not been made by NatureScot and JNCC.
5.1.8 Following the supplementary consultation, 12 of the pSPAs were classified. Marine Scotland also engaged directly with Orkney Islands Council to address a number of objections they had to the proposals. Following this engagement, the alternative option of classifying North Orkney and Scapa Flow as two separate SPAs was taken forward. In addition, Marine Scotland developed a working partnership with Orkney Islands Council and NatureScot. Together they have jointly funded a series of aerial and vantage point birds surveys to ensure there is a more up to date and robust baseline dataset to allow evidence based decisions to be made on the management of these sites.
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