Offshore wind, wave and tidal energy applications: consenting and licensing manual

This document provides guidance on applying for consents and marine licences for offshore renewable energy projects within both Scottish Territorial Waters (out to 12 nautical miles (“nm”)) and Scottish Offshore Waters (12-200 nm). It updates and replaces the draft Marine Scotland Licensing and Consents Manual published in 2013.

1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose

This Consenting and Licensing Guidance (herein known as the Guidance) is part of Marine Scotland's licensing policy suite for all stakeholders, including developers, regulators, statutory advisors, the public and other interested parties. It provides guidance on applying for Section 36 ("s.36") consents and marine licences for offshore renewable energy projects within both Scottish Territorial Waters (out to 12 nautical miles ("nm")) and Scottish Offshore Waters (12-200 nm).

The Guidance updates and replaces the draft Marine Scotland Licensing and Consents Manual published in 2013. The Guidance will be a live document and will be updated as policy and legislative changes require.

Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team ("MS-LOT") oversees the application of the Guidance within the consenting and licensing application processes for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy development (hence forth referred to as "offshore renewables").

1.2 Scope of the Guidance

The Guidance is specific to offshore renewable energy applications only and covers all scales of development. Separate guidance for other marine licence activities is available on the Scottish Government website.

The Guidance covers the consenting and licensing process from pre-application, through to application and post-determination (including post consent condition requirements), highlighting legislative and process requirements[1].

The Guidance provides links to other relevant guidance documents where appropriate.

The Guidance will be supported by separate licensing policy guidance papers which go into more depth on specific issues, for example on decommissioning or survey, deploy and monitor policy. More information on these is available at section 1.5.5.

1.3 Key Organisations, Roles and Responsibilities

1.3.1 Marine Scotland

Marine Scotland is a directorate of the Scottish Government and is responsible for managing Scotland's seas for prosperity and environmental sustainability. This contributes to the Scottish Government's overall purpose of sustainable economic growth and the achievement of a shared vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse marine and coastal environments, managed to meet the long term needs of people and nature.

Marine Scotland's key responsibilities are to:

  • Work towards achieving good environmental status, through marine planning, licensing and other functions, to help ensure a healthy and sustainable environment;
  • Promote sustainable economic growth from offshore renewables and other marine and maritime industries through integrated planning and, where appropriate, streamlined regulatory frameworks;
  • Promote sustainable, profitable and well managed fisheries and aquaculture industries in Scotland;
  • Ensure sustainably managed freshwater fish and fisheries resources;
  • Ensure a sound evidence base to inform the development and delivery of marine policy, planning and services;
  • Ensure effective compliance and enforcement arrangements; and
  • Continue to integrate functions and resources, and to develop organisational skills, competencies and capacity to ensure effective and efficient marine management arrangements in Scotland.

The relevant roles within Marine Scotland are as follows:

Licensing and Operations

MS-LOT, a team within Marine Scotland, is the regulator responsible for the impartial assessment of Marine licence and s.36 consent applications, ensuring compliance with all relevant legislation and the issue of all marine related permissions. It operates a "one stop shop" to handle the entire consenting/licensing process, from initial queries through to the issuing of permissions and post-consent approvals. It is the single point of contact for all queries relating to the licensing of the deployment of offshore renewable energy devices in Scottish waters. Early and adequate engagement with MS-LOT is essential and will assist developers in determining the level of data collection required to inform impact assessments required to support applications. Informal consultation at the pre-application stage and ongoing dialogue with MS-LOT, its advisors and other stakeholders, including local interest groups and the public will also help to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to all stakeholder concerns (including the public) and that opinions are integrated into the project decision making process.

MS-LOT takes the lead role in facilitating engagement with relevant external parties in relation to applications and ensures that consultation proceeds in a timely and effective manner.

MS-LOT's main roles are:

  • to provide developers with advice on the requirements for preparing and submitting competent applications for a marine development; and
  • to provide Scottish Ministers with independent advice on the suitability and sustainability of a proposed development.

MS-LOT will ensure that screening opinions, scoping opinions, gate check review (including scientific review and Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") audit), socio-economic advice, consultation analysis and expert opinion is provided to guide developers applications.

MS-LOT will also ensure that Scottish Ministers rely on independent advice and best available science when making decisions. It engages with MS specialist advisors as appropriate, including Marine Scotland Science ("MSS") and Marine Scotland's analytical unit and other policy and legal advisors to ensure that impartial and robust and independent advice is provided. In the case of sponsorship advice, or to formulate sector specific solutions, MS-LOT liaises with policy colleagues.

MS-LOT follows Licensing Policy Guidance which is produced to ensure clarity is provided to developers, statutory advisors, consultees and others with an interest in the development application process.

Where doubts, concerns or gaps in knowledge are identified, MS-LOT will advise policy colleagues. The policy team will then liaise with MSS, MS Analytical Unit and other parts of Scottish Government (i.e. the EIA/ Habitats Regulations Appraisal ("HRA") team) to develop a solution in the form of research or additional monitoring. It is important that policy colleagues are advised of gaps in knowledge during the consenting and licensing process as additional research and monitoring can be targeted at resolving licensing issues and can be used to refine Sectoral Marine Plans in a co-ordinated fashion. A similar process is involved in informing the development of the national and regional marine plans.


Scottish Ministers have put in place a system of statutory marine planning. MS-LOT takes the statutory national and regional marine plan into account when providing views and opinions to developers, statutory advisors, consultees and within their advice to Scottish Ministers. Scottish Ministers have also, in line with environmental legislation, adopted a process of non-statutory Sectoral Marine Planning. This process is aimed at developing Ministerial sectoral policy, including spatial policy, based upon the use of Strategic Environmental Assessment ("SEA"), Habitats Regulations Appraisal ("HRA"), Socio-economics and Consultation Analysis. Ministers adopt these non-statutory Plans through the publication of an SEA, the Plan, an Appropriate Assessment ("AA") and the Post-Adoption Statement.

Marine Scotland, as part of its planning role, is also responsible for strategic level outputs which guide renewable energy developments into areas of least constraint, principally through sectoral marine plans.

Marine Scotland ensures that the development of wave, tidal and offshore wind energy sectors is carried out in a planned and sustainable manner, by applying best regulatory practice supported by high quality science. Marine Scotland is responsible for the application of the processes and the provision of advice to Ministers on the development of Sectoral Marine Plans. MS-LOT has to take account of the Sectoral Plans and incorporate findings and advice into the Licensing process, particularly at the screening and scoping stages of the EIA process. The Plan process helps to identify gaps in knowledge which in turn allow Marine Scotland to commission strategic research and data collection drawing upon MSS, MS Analytical Unit and other advice providers expertise.

Policy and Research

Part of Marine Scotland's policy role is to consider how to tackle problems, difficulties being faced by developers and facilitate other improvements through sectoral marine planning, policy guidance and coordinated research.

Marine Scotland also has a policy responsibility for the Strategic Research Programme covering offshore renewable energy. The remit of the programme is to establish, and produce an evidence map of the research priorities in specific priority areas. It will then consider mechanisms available to fund future research in order to deliver the priority research.

If there are gaps in scientific knowledge and there are important factors involving risks to the ecosystem and protected species, we can apply best available science, however we also have to adhere to the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle requires the consenting authority to either refuse the development application or undertake risk analysis and set up a research programme. In the case of project applications off Scotland, there are gaps in knowledge with regard to impact assessment and the supporting science. As such Marine Scotland has undertaken risk analysis covering gaps in scientific knowledge using the Scottish Renewables Research Framework ("SpORRAn") initiative. This has resulted in the production of a set of evidence maps highlighting the gaps in knowledge and the associated projects required to address these gaps. To complete the SpORRAn process Marine Scotland will undertake a project prioritisation process to establish the Scottish Marine Energy Research (ScotMER) programme. ScotMER will seek to take forward a set of priority projects using Scottish Government funding, Research Council funding and where appropriate in partnership with developers and others involved in ORJIP or other research initiatives.


MS-LOT is supported by MSS which has expertise in a range of subject areas that are key to understanding the marine environment.

MSS provides independent scientific advice to MS-LOT. This advice must be based upon best available science. MSS will provide MS-LOT with a Scientific Review of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report ("EIA Report") and the HRA. In the case of the HRA, MSS may also draft the AA, however this will be approved by MS-LOT. MSS play a key role in undertaking strategic assessment and research which may help inform better HRA, especially in relation to Cumulative Effects Assessment.

Where further scientific input is required with regard to difficult or contentious issues MSS can ask its 'external' Scientific Advisory Group to provide a view. However, if specialist advice is required, MSS will, in liaison with MS planning and policy colleagues, MS-LOT, and its Advisory Group, form an Expert Panel. The Expert Panel will be formed of specialist scientists of international reputation whose task it will be to advise on issues such as marine mammal response to noise in the marine environment.

1.3.2 Crown Estate Scotland

In Scotland, the foreshore and seabed out to a distance of 12 nm are presumed to belong to The Crown, with management of this resource being the responsibility of Crown Estate Scotland. Applicants need to obtain a lease from Crown Estate Scotland (or the holder of the rights) for the use of all sea areas in inshore waters (up to 12 nm) or out to 200 nm in Scottish offshore waters.

1.3.3 Statutory Consultees

There are four main statutory consultees for s.36 applications (under the Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017): the planning authority/ies, Scottish Natural Heritage ("SNH"); Scottish Environment Protection Agency ("SEPA"); Historic Environment Scotland; and where required, any EEA State identified as being significantly affected by the development.

Statutory consultees for Marine Licence applications (under the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017) are any relevant local planning authority, SNH, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland, and any relevant authority. Additional statutory consultees under the Marine Licensing (Consultees) (Scotland) Order 2011 are the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency ("MCA") and any delegate for a region. Below is a short synopsis of each organisation and their role.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

SNH is Scottish Ministers' independent statutory advisors on nature conservation in Scottish inshore waters and also now has delegated responsibility for providing advice on renewable energy applications in Scottish Offshore Waters. SNH will therefore advise MS on sectoral marine plans and development applications. SNH is a statutory consultee for both s.36 and ML applications. SNH has produced a service level statement for renewable energy consultation. This statement provides information regarding the level of input that can be expected from SNH at various stages of the EIA process. SNH, working closely with the offshore renewables industry, has developed a range of guidance, including landscape and seascape assessment and survey/monitoring guidelines.

Planning Authorities

Planning Authorities are statutory consultees for s.36 applications and are also fully consulted on any deemed planning components of a s.36 application. In some cases, consultation with more than one Planning Authority may be necessary.

Applicants should ensure there is close and detailed liaison with the relevant Planning Authority/ies from the early project-planning stage even if terrestrial consents are not required as they will also be interested in the landscape and visual impact arising from offshore developments and any socio-economic implications. The relevant local Planning Authority/ies must also be consulted with respect to marine licences.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The MCA is a statutory consultee for MLs and has responsibility for ensuring the navigational safety of the marine environment. Although the policy for offshore renewables industry is overseen by a specialist team at MCA headquarters in Southampton, the team will often consult with local MCA representatives. However, as Offshore Renewable Energy installations are considered "significant projects" within the MCA, the first point of contact should be the Navigation Safety Branch in Southampton. Further information on the agency and their role in relation to Navigation Risk Assessment ("NRA") is set out in section 4.7 of this Guidance.

Northern Lighthouse Board

The Northern Lighthouse Board is a statutory consultee for MLs and is responsible for advising on all buoys, lights, or other marking requirements and for issuing Statutory Sanction to deploy such markers.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is a statutory consultee for both s.36 and MLs and is Scotland's environmental regulator whose main role is to protect the environment. The two primary regulatory mechanisms for SEPA, in relation to offshore energy, are:

Water Environment and Water Services Act 2003; and
Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (applicable out to 3 nm).

For the River Basin Management Planning process SEPA has established the Fish and Fisheries Advisory Group which, together with SEPA's fisheries science staff, advises SEPA on strategic issues relating to the development of policy, guidance and research for the protection of fish and fisheries. SEPA will also advise and make recommendations during the appropriate licence application process or consultation, in relation to protecting the environment.

Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland's ("HES") role in the planning process is to provide advice on the potential impacts of development on the historic environment. HES is consulted on all qualifying EIA projects in Scotland, including those in the marine environment.

Marine Planning Partnerships

Regional marine planning will be undertaken by Marine Planning Partnerships, which will be made up of marine stakeholders who reflect marine interests in their region. Whilst some Marine Planning Partnerships are in place, it will take time for them to be established across Scotland. The partnerships will vary in size and composition depending on the area, issues to be dealt with and the existing groups.

Regional marine planning powers will be delegated to the Partnerships by Scottish Ministers. These powers will not include licensing or consenting as these will remain the responsibility of consenting bodies such as Marine Scotland and Local Authorities. The first partnerships are in the Clyde and Shetland Isles regions.

Marine Renewables Facilitators Group

To assist in tackling complex issues and/or to resolve areas of dispute anytime in the application process, MS-LOT may decide to bring together an advisory group, the Marine Renewables Facilitators Group ("MRFG"). The group could also be called upon to consider changes in the assessment process which deviate from the advice given in the scoping opinion. This process should be used to help reduce any requests for further assessment following the acceptance of an application. The group normally, but not always, comprises representatives of the key regulators and statutory consultees who are suitably experienced and empowered by their organisations to provide advice and guidance. The potential members of a MRFG are drawn from the following bodies:

  • Ministry of Defence (MOD);
  • National Air Traffic Services (NATS);
  • Civil Aviation Authority (CAA);
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH);
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC);
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA);
  • Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB);
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA);
  • Department for Business, Energy& Industrial Strategy (BEIS);
  • Marine Scotland Science (MSS);
  • Planning Authority (PA); and
  • Marine Scotland Marine Policy and Planning Division

The Chair is nominated by MS-LOT and may be selected from the bodies listed above or, as specific circumstances dictate, from another stakeholder or independent third party. The MRFG's function is not to take part in the final determination of an application but it will be expected to, where appropriate, advise and give direction to MS-LOT on aspects of the application process before the final determination and recommendation is made.

1.4 Legislation

1.4.1 Planning

Maritime Spatial Planning Directive

EU Directive 2014/89/EU came into force in July 2014 and establishes a framework for maritime spatial planning. It aims to promote the sustainable growth of the maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources. In essence, the Directive places a legal requirement on Member States to develop and implement Maritime Spatial Plans by 2021 at the latest. It also sets out a number of minimum requirements that Maritime Spatial Plans are required to meet. More detail on Scotland's National Marine Plan can be found in Section 1.5.2.

Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Other than in relation to certain specified matters, the Scottish Ministers have executively devolved powers over marine planning, marine licensing and nature conservation in the offshore marine region (12-200 nm) in accordance with the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (as amended) ("the 2009 Act"). As such, the Marine Management Organisation ("MMO") does not exercise such functions in Scottish waters or in the Scottish part of the renewable energy zone where the Scottish Ministers perform such functions.

The Scottish Ministers also have executively devolved powers in relation to applications for consent under s.36 of the Electricity Act 1989 throughout Scotland's entire marine region (inshore and offshore).

Where applications for both a marine licence under the 2009 Act and consent under s.36 of the Electricity Act are made, then in those cases where the Scottish Ministers are the determining authority, they may issue a note to the applicant stating that both applications will be subject to the same administrative procedure. Where that is the case then that will ensure that the two related applications may be considered at the same time.

Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 applies to the Scottish inshore region (0 – 12nm) and came into force in March 2010 in response to demands for improved management of the marine environment and its resources. The Act followed over 5 years of significant input from marine interests via a number of workgroups under consecutive administrations. Therefore while the detail in the Act was much debated via the Bill process, the overarching provisions of the Act were supported by the majority of marine stakeholders.

The Act introduced provisions for:

  • Marine planning: a new statutory marine planning system to sustainably manage increasing and conflicting demands on our seas
  • Marine licensing: a streamlined licensing system, minimising the number of licences required for development in the marine environment
  • Marine conservation: enhanced powers to protect marine nature and historic areas of importance for marine wildlife, habitats and historic monuments
  • Seal conservation: improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system to ensure appropriate management when necessary
  • Enforcement: a range of enhanced powers of marine conservation and licensing

1.4.2 Assessment

SEA Directive

The Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive is a European Union requirement that seeks to provide a high level of protection of the environment by integrating environmental considerations into the process of preparing certain plans and programmes.

The aim of the Directive is "to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development, by ensuing that, in accordance with the Directive, an environmental assessment is carried out of qualifying plans and programmes which are likely to have significant effects on the environment."

The Directive requires an "environmental assessment" of certain plans and programmes. "Environmental assessment" is defined as a procedure comprising:

  • preparing an Environmental Report on the likely significant effects of the draft plan or programme;
  • carrying out consultation on the draft plan or programme and the accompanying Environmental Report;
  • taking into account the Environmental Report and the results of consultation in decision making; and
  • providing information when the plan or programme is adopted and showing how the results of the environmental assessment have been taken into account.

Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005

SEA is a systematic process for identifying, reporting, proposing mitigation measures and monitoring environmental effects of plans, programmes and strategies. It aims to ensure that environmental issues are taken into account at every stage in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and review of plans, programmes and strategies of a public nature.

EU legislation requiring the environmental assessment of plans and programmes came into force in 2001 through Directive 2001/42/EC. In Scotland, the requirements of the Directive are taken forward by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. This Act requires environmental assessment is undertaken on all plans, programmes and strategies of a public nature which are likely to have significant environmental effects.

The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 only applies to plans and programmes that relate solely to the whole or any part of Scotland. The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (the UK Regulations) therefore applies to those plans and programmes that geographically fall within the 12-200nm limit.

The SEA played a prominent role in the development of the Sectoral Plans by identifying key environmental receptors, effects and mitigation measures and by providing an early indication of issues to be addressed at the project level.

SEA was applied to test and comment on the plan options for development from a strategic perspective. The process was applicable to strategic and regional level issues. The SEA findings and associated opinions arising from the consultation process led to broad recommendations for the Sectoral Plans as a whole. The findings from the SEA process also, where appropriate, were used as a starting point for further, more detailed data collection and environmental assessment, either for strategic review at a regional level or to aid consideration of developer project-level assessment.

Habitats Directive

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21st May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora (as amended) ("the Habitats Directive"), provides for the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna in the Member States' European territory, including offshore areas. It promotes the maintenance of biodiversity by requiring Member States to take measures which include those which maintain or restore natural habitats and wild species listed in the Annexes to the Habitats Directive at a favourable conservation status and contributes to a coherent European ecological network of protected sites by designating Special Areas of Conservation ("SAC") for those habitats listed in Annex I and for the species listed in Annex II, both Annexes to that Directive.

Articles 6 & 7 of the Habitats Directive provide inter alia as follows:

"6.2 Member States shall take appropriate steps to avoid, in the special areas of conservation, the deterioration of natural habitats and the habitats of species as well as disturbance of the species for which the areas have been designated, in so far as such disturbance could be significant in relation to the objectives of this Directive.

6.3 Any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to an Appropriate Assessment ("AA") of its implications for the site in view of the site's conservation objectives. In the light of the conclusions of the assessment of the implications for the site and subject to the provisions of paragraph 4, the competent national authorities shall agree to the plan or project only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned and, if appropriate, after having obtained the opinion of the general public.

6.4. If, in spite of a negative assessment of the implications for the site and in the absence of alternative solutions, a plan or project must nevertheless be carried out for imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature, the Member State shall take all compensatory measures necessary to ensure that the overall coherence of Natura 2000 is protected. It shall inform the Commission of the compensatory measures adopted.

7. Obligations arising under Article 6 (2), (3) and (4) of this Directive shall replace any obligations arising under the first sentence of Article 4 (4) of Directive 79/409/EEC in respect of areas classified pursuant to Article 4 (1) or similarly recognized under Article 4 (2) thereof, as from the date of implementation of this Directive or the date of classification or recognition by a Member State under Directive 79/409/EEC, where the latter date is later."

The requirements of Article 6 and 7 are implemented through HRA in Scotland as described in section 2.6.

Birds Directive

The EU Wild Birds Directive (Council Directive 2009/147/EC) codified Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds. The Directive aims to halt decline in populations of bird species in European. It also seeks to ensure the preservation, maintenance or restoration of a sufficient diversity and area of essential habitat. The Directive requires the designation of Special Protection Areas for the bird species listed in Annex 1, as well as regularly occurring migratory species.

Article 7 of the EU Habitats Directive replaced the first sentence of Article 4.4 of the EU Wild Birds Directive with the obligations of Article 6 (2), (3) and (4) of the EU Habitats Directive, as shown in the above. This means that the same requirements apply to the assessment of effects on sites designated under the EU Wild Birds and Habitats Directives.

Regulations which require HRA to be undertaken

The Habitats Regulations is the collective term for the regulations which implement the EU Habitats Directive, and certain aspects of the EU Wild Birds Directive in Scotland. The following regulations are currently in force:

  • The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (apply to s.36 consent applications)
  • The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 as amended (apply to marine licence applications in relation to devolved matters in Scottish territorial waters)
  • The Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (referred to below as the "OMRs 2017") (apply to marine licence and s.36 consent applications within Scotland's offshore region beyond 12 nm.

When undertaking HRA on its plans Marine Scotland has used an iterative and auditable process drawing upon the agreed guidance for undertaking HRAs for plans in Scotland which has been set out in the report produced on behalf of SNH by David Tyldesley and Associates (2010 and later updated in 2015).

Aarhus Convention

The Aarhus Convention establishes a number of rights of the public (individuals and their associations) with regard to the environment. These include:

  • the right of everyone to receive environmental information that is held by public authorities ("access to environmental information").
  • the right to participate in environmental decision-making. Arrangements are to be made by public authorities to enable the public affected and environmental non-governmental organisations to comment on, for example, proposals for projects affecting the environment, or plans and programmes relating to the environment, these comments to be taken into due account in decision-making, and information to be provided on the final decisions and the reasons for it;
  • the right to review procedures to challenge public decisions that have been made without respecting the two aforementioned rights or environmental law in general ("access to justice").

Public Participation Directive

The Public Participation Directive 2003/35/EC provides for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment. The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017, the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 and the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 (herein referred to collectively as "the EIA Regulations") take the requirements of the directive into account.

1.5 Planning and Policy

Marine Scotland is using a marine planning approach to ensure efficient, sustainable green energy generation. Consenting and Licensing decisions will be taken in accordance with the Marine Acts, UK Marine Policy Statement, Scotland's National Marine Plan, Sectoral Marine Plans for Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy and, in due course, Scottish Regional Marine Plans. Applicants should consult available marine plans in development planning stages for clarity of Government objectives and policies for the marine environment.

1.5.1 The UK Marine Policy Statement

The UK Marine Policy Statement, which was created and adopted by the UK Government and devolved administrations, facilitates an integrated approach to marine planning across the UK and sets out the high level framework for preparing marine plans and taking decisions affecting the marine environment.

Importantly, the UK Marine Policy Statement outlines the requirement for marine plans within UK waters to be developed taking into account environmental, social and economic objectives (i.e. Strategic Environmental Assessment as well as a Social and Economic Impact Assessment).

1.5.2 Scotland's National Marine Plan

Scotland's National Marine Plan was published in accordance with the UK Marine Policy Statement and sets out a single statutory planning framework for all marine activity out to 200 nm in Scottish waters. It provides a structure which embeds environmental protection in decision making, improving consistency of decision making and providing greater certainty for developers and users of the sea.

Of particular relevance are the 21 General Policies set out in Chapter 4 and the 8 Objectives and 10 Marine planning policies for offshore wind and Marine Renewable Energy set out in chapter 11. Chapter 6 sets out sea fisheries policies, including Fisheries Policy 1 and 2 setting out what needs to be considered when deciding on uses of the marine environment and the potential impact on fishing and Policy 3, requiring a Fisheries Management and Mitigation Strategy to be prepared by developers in instances where the existing fishing opportunities or activity cannot be safeguarded. This should include full engagement with local fishing interests (and other interests as appropriate). In addition chapter 14 covers policies in relation to submarine cables.

General Policies 2 and 3 of the National Marine Plan support the delivery of economic and social benefits from sustainable marine developments and ensure consideration is given to the use of scenario mapping as a planning tool to assess socio-economic implications of commercial scale developments.

1.5.3 Regional Marine Plans

Marine planning will be implemented at a local level within Scottish Marine Regions, extending out to 12 nm. Within these regions, Regional Marine Plans will be developed by Marine Planning Partnerships to take account of local circumstances and smaller ecosystem units. Marine Planning Partnerships (MPP) currently exist in Shetland and Clyde. These MPPs are currently working on a regional plan for their respective areas. Development proposals for these areas would benefit from early discussions with respective MPP.

1.5.4 Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Wind, Wave & Tidal Energy

Sectoral Marine Planning has been developed in Scotland to meet with the requirements of EU, UK and Scottish legal and policy instruments. Legislation on SEA and HRA require environmental assessment to support Ministerial Plans, Programmes and Strategies. An Appropriate Assessment is published following consideration of the strategic HRA taken forward on the Plan options. In addition, Socio-economic assessment is also required under the UK Marine Policy Statement and is necessary to consult properly under Public Participation Regulations with regard to strategic plan, programme or strategy making. In the case of Sectoral Marine Plans Scenario Mapping is applied in accordance with the Scottish National Marine Plan to better understand the social and economic benefits stemming from developer projects covered by the Plan.

The SEA, sHRA, Social and Economic (including any available Scenario Mapping report) are subject to statutory public consultation. Public Participation Statements, regional and sectoral consultation workshops, statutory body consultation and other consultation initiatives, both written and verbal, are undertaken to ensure effective debate is held on draft plan options. This engagement is reported and published in a Consultation Analysis documents.

Scottish Ministers consider all available information to allow them to select plan options for inclusion within their Plan. The information considered and reasons behind plan option selection are published within the Post Adoption Statement which is available alongside the final Ministerial approved Plan.

The Sectoral Marine Plans represent Scottish Ministers' spatial policy for the development of commercial scale offshore renewable energy at a national and regional level. All commercial scale offshore renewable developments should be included with a published sectoral marine plan before they can be considered by MS-LOT under consenting and licensing procedures. Non-commercial or demonstrator scale development do not need to go through Sustainability Appraisal or be included within a Sectoral Marine Plan.

The areas contained in the Sectoral Marine Plans are referred to as adopted Plan Options. Plan Options are strategic development zones in which commercial scale projects should be sited following further project specific zone appraisal, where appropriate, and consideration is given to the key strategic issues identified in the SMPs and Sustainability Appraisal.

In addition, the Plan, post-adoption statement, the related assessments and Scenario Mapping processes detail the key strategic environmental, social and economic considerations (for example key considerations for project consenting, potential research and data gaps to be addressed or the potential to increase benefits for developments) within the Plan Option areas. Developers should give considerations to the outputs of these documents when producing Scoping Reports for potential developments within Plan Option areas.

Regional Locational Guidance

Regional Locational Guidance has been developed to inform sectoral marine plans but it can also be used where there is no sectoral marine plan or no sectoral marine plan requirement to aid developers in terms of the best environment and economic advice to aid developers with site selection and other development considerations. Regional Locational Guidance has a role in marine licensing and is now used to identify Sectoral Marine Plan options, or to provide Marine Scotland's best available advice for demonstrator or non-commercial scale development.

1.5.5 Licensing Policy Guidance

In addition to this Guidance, there is operational draft policy guidance available on draft Survey, Deploy and Monitor Licensing Policy Guidance, economic Impact Assessment and policy in relation to Dropped Objects at sea. Further policy guidance will be prepared on decommissioning of offshore renewable energy installations in Scottish waters.


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