National Marine Plan 2 minutes: April 2023

Minutes of the meeting held on 25 April 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • British Trout Association
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • NatureScot 
  • South West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group
  • Clyde Fisheries Association (CFA)
  • Northern Lighthouse Board
  • Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
  •  Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  • Coastal Communities Network (CCN)
  •  Crown Estate Scotland (CES)
  • Offshore Energies UK (OEUK)
  • Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers
  • Scottish Fishermen Federation (SFF)
  • North West Regional Inshore Fisheries Group
  •  Visit Scotland
  • North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA)
  • Scottish Environment Link (SE LINK)
  • Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED)
  • Fisheries Management Scotland
  •  Scottish Renewables
  • Salmon Scotland
  • Scottish Seaweed Industry Association
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB Scotland)

Scottish Government

  • Marine Policy and Planning, Directorate for Marine Scotland
  •  Sectoral Marine Planning, Offshore Wind Directorate
  • Blue Economy, Directorate for Marine Scotland
  • Marine Scotland Science, Directorate for Marine Scotland
  • Marine Analytical Unit, Directorate for Marine Scotland


  • European Subsea Cables Association
  • South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE)
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • UK Chamber of Shipping (UKCoS)
  • Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA)
  • North and East Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group

Items and actions


All participants were welcomed and the agenda for the meeting outlined. The National Marine Planning team were asked to introduce themselves and attendees introduced themselves when asking questions.

An official stated the purpose of the Steering Group membership was to bring together national level stakeholders to provide input and advise on the assessments to support the updated National Marine Plan (referred to as “NMP2”) and highlighted other ways to contribute including the National Marine Planning Forum (on 15 June 2023), which would be accessible to wider stakeholder groups.

All agenda items were covered.

NMP2 Steering Group

An official outlined the national marine planning process in Scotland, the legislation associated and reasons behind the decision to update the current National Marine Plan (2015).  The official stated the purpose of NMP2, progress so far (including indicative timeline) and the primary focus of the Steering Group: to review assessments required for statutory Sustainability Appraisal (“SA”). The official suggested that there may be a need for smaller focussed sessions with select Steering Group members on certain policy or assessment areas throughout development.

The official outlined the statutory SA requirements, and informed that results must be published for public consultation alongside the draft NMP2 Plan (hereafter referred to as the “Plan”). They provided detail, purpose and estimated timings for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (“SEA”), Habitats Regulations Appraisal (“HRA”) and Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (“SEIA”). The official explained that the SEIA fulfils the requirement to assess the development of the Plan against social and economic objectives as outlined in the UK Marine Policy Statement, and the results would feed into assessments being carried out internally within the Marine Directorate, including the Island Communities Impact Assessment (“ICIA”), Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (“BRIA”), Equalities Impact Assessment (“EQIA”) and Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Assessment (“CRWIA”).

A question was raised concerning the linkage between NMP2 and UK Marine Spatial Planning Prioritisation (“MSPri”) programme. It was clarified that MSPri was one of many initiatives that NMP2 are aware of and aim to keep connected with, and that the NMP2 process will be linked to wider UK Marine Prioritisation and North Sea work. It was highlighted that many stakeholders appear on a variety of initiatives, and the NMP2 team continue to make connections via those routes.

Questions were raised over NMP2 alignment with the Sectoral Marine Plan for offshore wind energy (“SMP-OWE”), Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (“INTOG”) and if the indicative timeline allows NMP2 to react to the Highly Protected Marine Areas (“HPMA”) consultation findings.  An official highlighted that NMP2 has a different purpose to these plans as it will be an overarching governing framework. The SMP-OWE and INTOG are more spatially driven, and will be given status within NMP2 and required to make consenting decisions in accordance with NMP2. This will apply across a variety of sectors and initiatives. It was clarified that NMP2 will tie in with SMP development timelines as best as possible and that there is ongoing communication between teams. The official added that SMP team are part of this Steering Group, working in tandem with NMP2 and highlighted that the SMP Draft is earlier than the NMP2 draft but will feed into the NMP2 process. It was confirmed that the NMP2 team are working in collaboration with the HPMA team, much the same as the SMP team, and that the consultation findings should be reflected in the work to develop NMP2.

Action 1

To circulate PowerPoint slides from meeting with Steering Group Members.

Terms of Reference review

An official covered the purpose of the Terms of Reference (“ToR”) for the Steering Group and highlighted certain aspects including: publishing of Steering Group meeting minutes on the Scottish Government website; sharing of information not publicly available; and that the Scottish Government Marine Scotland Directorate must comply with the Freedom of Information Act. The deadline for feedback on the SEA Scoping report from Steering Group members was stated as 10 May 2023 and an estimated timetable of further Steering Group meetings was shared.

A concern was raised over the quick turnaround for the SEA Scoping report comments. An official explained that the tight deadline is to accommodate comments before public consultation in Summer 2023, but clarified that turnaround times will not be the same for all deliverables. Further, Steering Group members can provide additional comments on the SEA Scoping report during the public consultation.

Clarification was sought over the meaning of “flexible” in Point F of the ToR: if it was for Steering Group members to decide what meetings to attend or if they would only be invited to specific meetings. The official clarified that the NMP2 team intend to circulate detailed agendas with timings ahead of meetings and that members are welcome to attend certain agenda items most relevant to them. It was re-iterated that there may be follow up meetings with smaller focus groups on certain aspects, e.g., if further discussion is required around a specific topic that may not be relevant to all members. It was suggested that this was not adequately reflected in the ToR.

A question was raised over Point D in the ToR concerning how the NMP2 team propose that the Steering Group does not exist in isolation: whether it would be via scene setting by the NMP2 team or by input from members. An official suggested that it would be both, and that the NMP2 team will provide policy context and outputs from other processes, e.g., renewables outputs from Energy Bill and any secondary legislation, or workstreams that need to be integrated at meetings. NMP2 must go through the parliamentary process at Holyrood and Whitehall. It was emphasised that, although challenging, a part of the NMP2 process is to keep track of all evolving policy processes and workstreams, and we must ensure that members of the Steering Group can also provide updates on the wider policy landscape to the Steering Group and discuss how such changes could be considered within the development of  NMP2. It was suggested that we can also bring specific speakers in to discuss topics.

It was noted that the Consultation Authorities (“CAs”) will respond to the Steering Group in their capacity as CAs and cannot act as Responsible Authorities at the same time. As part of the Steering Group, CAs may respond with comments twice via the Steering Group and during the SEA gateway consultation (the latter required by legislation), which takes place at the same time as the public consultation.

It was recommended that the wording in Point I of the ToR should be changed from “with confidence” to “in confidence”.

Action 2

To review Point F in the ToR to provide more clarity

Action 3

To update Point I in the ToR from “with confidence” to “in confidence”.

SEA Scoping

An official introduced the SEA Scoping report and confirmed that it will be circulated after the meeting with an accompanying spreadsheet for comments. The purpose of the SEA Scoping report was outlined noting that legislation allows NMP2 to proceed straight to scoping, and that all SEA topics will be scoped into the assessment. It was highlighted that a table including key environmental issues for each of the SEA topics has been included in the Scoping report and comments are welcomed. The National, UK-wide and International legislative and policy context with regards to NMP2 is discussed in the SEA scoping report. Scotland’s Marine Assessment (SMA) 2020 was stated as the broad environmental baseline for the assessments and NMP2, and that any relevant updates to the evidence base post 2020 will be brought to the assessment process as a whole. The consideration of cumulative effects and reasonable alternatives were discussed.

A concern was raised over the large gap between Summer 2023 - Summer 2024 and suggested that more updates or milestones within this period would be beneficial. The input and resource requirements from members between Spring and Summer 2024 were also highlighted. The official clarified that there will be further Steering Group meetings, the National Marine Planning forum as well as other specific stakeholder engagement events ongoing within this timeframe. The Statement of Public Participation was shared during the meeting and noted as a document that could provide more detail on stakeholder engagement. An official stated that we should be able to share initial outputs prior to final deliverables to allow for as early sight of documents as possible.

Clarification on how the SEA process informs the NMP2 was sought. An official contributed that the NMP2 team will look at and assess reasonable alternatives to the Plan and that the fundamental principles of the SEA process will be used to improve the Plan output. It was added that the Steering Group will help guide NMP2 and there is an intention to have opportunities for targeted engagement for sense-checking of specific chapters.

A concern was raised over accessibility of the SEA Scoping report to the general public during consultation and what plan the NMP2 team have to make it more accessible. An official emphasised that the SEA Scoping report is a technical document in a technical process, but we will include non-technical summaries. It was added that the key is that the whole planning process is accessible, but the crucial aspect is making the draft Plan digestible for the 16-week consultation.

In response to a question about how the SMA 2020 is used as the baseline. An official clarified that the SMA 2020 is the starting point for the baseline but that certain parts of the evidence base have progressed since 2020; that the SEA baseline will draw on SMA 2020 throughout the process; and that we require stakeholders and Steering Group members to direct the NMP2 team to newer datasets that we can incorporate.

Concerns were raised over the wider public's understanding of the 0-12nm riverine limits of marine regions, and that it should be included in the NMP2 for public and population heath as well as interactions between fresh and seawater. An official suggested that this is something that can be incorporated in the maps included in NMP2 background to ensure people are aware of the jurisdiction.

It was noted that one of the UK Consultation Bodies was incorrectly named English Heritage instead of Historic England in the SEA scoping report.

The status of Regional Marine Planning was raised in terms of stakeholder expectation and ambitions for NMP2. It was suggested that context on the role and development of Marine Planning Partnerships and how they relate to NMP2 would be useful ahead of the SEA scoping report consultation. An official stated that this is an ongoing process and the response to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (“ECCLR”) committee is still being discussed, but any relevant aspects of the response can feed into the related processes are required.

It was clarified that the Sustainability Appraisal will be carried out by external consultants. Concerns were raised over communication with the consultants; the expertise of the consultants given the wider range of topics within; and ensuring an un-biased assessment from the beginning. An official confirmed that the NMP2 team understand the importance of keeping communication open with consultants.  It was highlighted that procurement is done via a framework of pre-checked consultants and the NMP2 team have stated the skill requirements expected of the consultants in the Invitation to Tender. If the consultant does not have these skills, there is a requirement for them to sub-contract for the expertise. Further, it is the role of the Marine Scotland Directorate, to ensure that information is taken into account, not skewed and that stakeholder's needs are captured in decision making, assessment methods and conclusions. Ultimately, final policy decisions rest with Scottish Ministers.

It was raised that scene setting should be done to help public consultation, regarding NMP2 position and that sectors will have different growth trajectories over the Plan period. Further, it was queried whether the scoping report had been reviewed by wider government agencies yet. The comments were noted, and it was confirmed that the SEA Scoping report had not been reviewed by other government agencies to date.

Concerns were raised that shellfish water designations appeared to be missing in the SEA topics; that the Water Framework Directive boundary in the report was stated at 1 nm instead of 3 nm; and there was a clarification regarding prevention of fish farming in North and East Scotland (which were for open net cages only rather than total protection). An official acknowledged that these concerns would be addressed in the update to SEA scoping report following the steering group review and that the purpose of the Steering Group is to highlight issues such as this.

It was raised that there is an importance to address the different types of aquaculture (finfish, seaweed and shellfish) in the NMP2 and their locations in Scottish Waters. It was confirmed that the NMP2 team are aware of the challenges and aim to reflect them throughout the process.

Action 4 to 8

  • to circulate SEA Scoping Report alongside response/comment spreadsheet.

  • steering Group members to provide all comments via response/comment spreadsheet by 10 May 2023

  •  to arrange time for next meeting and inform Steering Group members

  • to circulate minutes to Steering Group for review

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