National Marine Plan 2 Steering Group minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the National Marine Plan 2 Steering Group on 31 January 2024.

Attendees and apologies


  • British Trout Association
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • NatureScot
  • South West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group
  • Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance (CIFA)
  • Northern Lighthouse Board
  • Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
  • North and East Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group  
  • 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
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB Scotland)
  • Scottish Seaweed Industry Association
  • European Subsea Cables Association
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA)
  • South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) 
  • Orkney Regional Inshore Fisheries Group
  • Salmon Scotland
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

Scottish Government

  • Marine Policy and Planning, Marine Directorate
  • Science, Evidence, Data and Digital, Marine Directorate
  • Sectoral Marine Planning, Offshore Wind Directorate


  • Directorate for Local Government and Housing
  • Outer Hebrides Regional Inshore Fishery Group
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  • UK Chamber of Shipping (UKCoS)  
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

Items and actions

Welcome and general update on assessment progress 

Scottish Government officials from the National Marine Plan 2 (NMP2) team welcomed members of the group and noted that Minutes will be shared with the steering group for review prior to publishing. 

An Official outlined the progress made with the assessments supporting the development of NMP2, and shared that the assessments have been split into two packages: 
•    Social and Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) 
•    Strategic Environmental Assessment / Habitats Regulations Appraisal (SEA/HRA)  

Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 (SMA2020) will form the baseline for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Officials encouraged members of the group to share relevant data sets which could help inform the assessments. Data sets should be published, publicly available and preferably at a national scale or at the scale of any of the proposed NMP2 areas for assessment of impacts All data sets will be reviewed and subject to quality assurance, prior to their inclusion in the assessment process. 

A query was raised on the join-up between the NMP2 and the UK Strategic Spatial Energy Plan and Whole of the Seabed Projects.  An official confirmed awareness of both UK projects and that there is frequent communication cross-Government.

Request 1: Please can steering group members provide suggestions for data or evidence via circulated spreadsheet by Wednesday 21 February 2024. 

Note: Any previous data sources submitted via the SEA scoping consultation responses have been recorded and do not need to be flagged again.

Overview of Strategic Appraisal of existing National Marine Plan (NMP)

An Official explained the approach taken to the Strategic Appraisal of the existing NMP and proposals from the Strategic Appraisal process to be taken forward in NMP2.

The Summary Report of the Strategic Appraisal will be shared with the steering group, including a conclusion of the evaluation of the existing NMP policies, a summary of the feedback received on the current plan, and proposals for NMP2 with regards to the vision, structure and implementation.

Request 2: Please share any further feedback on NMP (2015) that you would like us to consider in the scope of NMP2.

Members of the steering group raised the following:

  • if sectoral safeguarding statements will be compiled? Adding that it has been done by Welsh Government as part of their Strategic Resource Area work which is beneficial to understand how safeguarding policies are considered
  • that current General Planning Principle 9 which considers national status of a Priority Marine Features requires fundamental change and the Biodiversity Strategy is a useful place to start

Officials responded that options for safeguarding policies are being explored including the approach adopted in Welsh National Marine Plan and will be discussed with stakeholders.

Officials confirmed several discussions are planned on proposals for evolving General Planning Principle 9 and there is an understanding that it is challenging. An official highlighted that the aim is to work with sectors and stakeholders to develop the ideas for policies.

Introduction to area-based structure  

Officials shared the proposed area-based structure for NMP2, similar to the place-based approach adopted in National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).

The assessments will look at impacts at a national scale and at an area-based scale. The area-based approach will help support the delivery of the commitments in the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee response for regional marine planning and does not replace regional planning.

The four proposed areas have been based on assessment areas for SMA2020 and align with the inshore marine regions in the Scottish Marine Regions Order (2015). Each area contains at least two of the regional inshore marine regions.

The area-based approach was welcomed by members; however, several questions were raised on the example map:

  • clarification on why there is an island from the West area located within the North area
  • North area on the map includes Orkney and Shetland which have differences with regards to the fishing sector
  • f any of the designated marine protected areas traverse any of the areas on the map
  • it may be helpful to look at the inshore and offshore jurisdictional differences, as well as the jurisdictional alignment with terrestrial planning
  • whether the local authorities within these regions agreed to work collaboratively in securing the necessary shore based marine infrastructure
  • how Green Freeport plans are to be integrated with area planning for the East area shown on the map

Officials commented that feedback on the presentation of the map is welcomed and explained that the uninhabited island in the North region is part of the Western Isles Marine Region under the Scottish Marine Regions Order (2015) and is represented this way to ensure marine regions are changed from those in the order.

Officials acknowledged that there are differences within the areas which will need to be reflected in the plan policy context and that the areas have been kept broad for national planning and to align with NPF4. There will be continued collaboration with regional marine planners and regional inshore fisheries groups during the development process for NMP2.

Officials agreed to look into whether any protected areas extend between areas.  

Officials clarified that the differences in inshore and offshore jurisdiction will be reflected in NMP2 just as in NMP (2015). 

Officials stated that the legislative extent of NMP2 is the 'mean high-water springs' and that the plan will consider land-sea interactions.  The NMP2 team are working with Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). It was highlighted that Scottish Government has committed to the Verity House agreement. The NMP2 team are seeking support from terrestrial planning colleagues who lead on that engagement with local authorities.
Officials answered that the conversations have just started with terrestrial planners about the consideration of Green Freeports and how they could potentially be incorporated into NMP2.

Introduction to NMP2 high-level objectives 

Officials introduced the draft NMP2 High-Level Objectives (HLOs) that have been developed to support Scotland’s Blue Economy Vision and Outcomes, as well as wider strategic outcomes. 

A member noted that having an implementation objective, as well as the environmental, social, and economic objectives, was a good idea.

The following questions were posed by members of the group:

  • if there is scope for more process orientated objectives to be set out, such as participatory engagement and integration with other governance systems e.g., terrestrial planning? 
  • why there was no mention of food security or food production in the draft objectives?

Officials confirmed that the policy development will consider participatory approaches and the role of NMP2 as a strategic planning framework in food security needed to be examined further.

It was suggested that for monitoring and evaluation of NMP2, it may be easier to evaluate the process objectives rather than the environmental objectives which will take longer to manifest.

Officials noted the guidance on the monitoring and evaluation framework and stated that this would be explored further. 

Proposals for upcoming engagement 

An official outlined the proposal for future engagement on the NMP2, highlighting that we have the Statement of Public Participation and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy. This has a vision for all to have the opportunity to influence decisions on how we use Scotland’s marine space. 

Stakeholder engagement will follow a staged approach. Draft Outputs will be shared with stakeholders for feedback as they are available and amended iteratively. 

Officials described the proposed engagement programme for sharing the High-Level Objectives more widely with stakeholders and explained that this would provide opportunities to gather ideas on the planning policies to support the delivery of the objectives. The NMP2 team requested support from the steering group members for suggestions on engagement events which could be attended by the NMP2 team, and for circulation of engagement information with wider stakeholder groups. Officials stated that the steering group will have an opportunity to comment specifically on the methods and approach to the assessments. 

Members were invited to share thoughts on the proposed engagement and the following suggestions were made:

  • marine and coastal tourism, recreation and leisure could be added to the list of targeted workshops. There is an upcoming national marine tourism conference, which may be a potential opportunity for a workshop
  • it may be worth splitting the inshore and offshore fishing sectors

Officials welcomed the advice of the steering group. 

Request 3: For group to provide feedback on proposals for high-level objective engagement, with suggestions of stakeholders to target or existing platforms and events to utilise by 21 February 2024.

Review of actions and next steps 

Officials outlined the key next steps in the development process for NMP2. This includes publishing a consultation analysis report for the SEA scoping consultation, progressing with the sustainability appraisal and stakeholder engagement events. All feedback on the SEA process received from stakeholders during the scoping consultation will be passed on to the relevant contractor. It was noted that the timeline for NMP2 is under review and that any changes will be shared with group.

Action 9: NMP2 team to share the slides.
Action 10: NMP2 team to arrange next steering group meeting.


Email: National Marine Planning

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