National Marine Plan 2 - strategic environmental assessment: scoping report

Sets out the proposed scope and level of detail for the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of National Marine Plan 2 (NMP2), along with a description of the proposed assessment methodology.

3. Approach to the Assessment

Elements of National Marine Plan 2 to be assessed

3.1. As noted in paragraph 1.20, National Marine Plan 2 will contain:

  • The vision for the plan, set out in Marine Directorate’s marine vision and agreed at the UK level
  • High-level objectives for the plan, in alignment with Scottish Government ambitions and commitments, UK High-Level Objectives, and international commitments such as objectives set out in OSPAR’s North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy 2030 or the criteria for good environmental status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • Sector- or region- specific objectives and policies

3.2. The SEA will perform a broad assessment of the high-level objectives and a more targeted/in-depth assessment of the specific objectives and policies of the plan.

3.3. The UK high level objectives, vision, and its outcomes were agreed amongst the four UK administrations and underwent their own assessment process, thus, they are beyond the scope of this assessment. Any Regional Marine Plans and Sectoral Marine Plans developed under the National Marine Plan framework are subject to separate SA/SEA processes.

3.4. Initial review, considering a precautionary approach, suggests that all SEA environmental topics are to be scoped into the assessment due to the nature and scale of National Marine Plan 2 and the potential for likely significant effects to occur across all topics. Thus, the SEA is proposed to consider: biodiversity, flora, and fauna; population and human health; soil (including marine geology, sediments, and coastal processes); water; air; climatic factors; material assets; cultural heritage; landscape and seascape; and the inter-relationships between them.

Further comments from the Consultation Authorities and interested parties on Marine Directorate’s initial assessments on relevant environmental topic areas are welcomed. Responses will be used to inform the approach to assessment.

Assessment Methodology

Consultation responses will inform the approach to the assessment.

SEA Objectives

3.5. SEA objectives will be used to assess the elements of the plan identified in paragraphs 3.1 and 3.2.

3.6. Initial review work by the Marine Directorate has identified a series of key environmental issues (Table 1) against which the contractor will assess and develop the SEA Objectives

3.7. The SEA objectives used to assess the National Marine Plan 2015 (Table 2) will be assessed, updated, and modified by the contractor undertaking the full assessment and production of the Environmental Report. A set of final SEA objectives will be developed taking into consideration the feedback received through this consultation and the key environmental issues identified.

Table 1. Key environmental issues identified by Marine Directorate.

Key Environmental Issues

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

  • Protecting priority marine features (PMFs) and meeting the conservation objectives of protected sites
  • Addressing the challenge of biodiversity loss by both halting biodiversity loss and restoring/regenerating biodiversity
  • Minimising risk of introduction and establishment, and reduce the adverse impacts of invasive non-native species
  • Protecting and allowing for the recovery, restoration, or enhancement of marine and coastal ecosystems, habitats and species

Population and Human Health

  • Ensuring that the physical health, mental health and wellbeing benefits from ocean, sea, coastal and inter-linked freshwater resources for people are equitably accessed and enjoyed
  • Limiting the impacts of marine industries on recreation and sustainable marine tourism; Limiting the impacts of recreation and tourism on the marine natural and historic environment
  • Reducing risk of harm to people from natural hazards, including storms, flooding, and coastal erosion
  • Limiting the human health impacts of air and water pollution
  • Allowing for sustainable development on Scottish islandsand rural coastal areas

Soil (Marine geology, sediments, and coastal processes)

  • Limiting the impact of bottom-contact activities with the potential to disturb the seabed and cause habitat loss (e.g., bottom-contact fishing, dredging and marine construction), including direct damage and sediment re-suspension
  • Maintaining natural physical processes
  • Enhancing the seabed and benthic habitats to take advantage of multiple benefits, such as natural carbon sequestration
  • Reducing risk of harm to the environment from natural hazards, including storms, flooding, and coastal erosion
  • Minimise the risk to Scotland’s coastline from coastal erosion/Avoiding exacerbation of coastal erosion and maintaining the integrity coastal processes (e.g., by conserving or enhancing marine habitats with a role in reducing risk of flooding or coastal erosion)


  • Limiting eutrophication, preventing pollution by hazardous substances (including hydrocarbons), preventing pollution by radioactive substances, preventing inputs of and significantly reducing marine litter
  • Ensuring concentration of water contaminants is at acceptably low levels within the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework’s Cleans Seas indicator[30] and enhancing water quality where possible
  • Maintaining or exceeding minimum environmental standards for water quality (e.g., as set out in the EU Water Framework Directive, Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003, EU Bathing Water Directive, and the Bathing Water (Scotland) Regulations 2008)
  • Limiting discharge of harmful ballast water within Scotland’s seas


  • Maintaining or exceeding minimum environmental standards for air quality (e.g. as set out in the Air Quality (Scotland) Regulations 2000, the Air Quality (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2002, and the Air Quality (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016; and in the European 2008 Ambient Air Quality Directive and the Air Quality Standards (Scotland) Regulations 2010).
  • Avoiding exacerbation of poor air quality and reducing air pollution from vessels and other human activities within the marine environment

Climatic Factors

  • Reducing climate change-induced impacts on the physical and chemical properties of the seas and oceans and on marine plants and animals (e.g. ocean acidification and warming); Reducing climate change-induced impacts on the historic environment (e.g., alteration and acceleration of decay processes of historic monuments and archaeological sites)
  • Reducing emissions of Greenhouse Gases and aerosols from marine activities and industries (e.g., vessels, ports, fishing activity, oil and gas)
  • Supporting mitigation of and adaptation to climate change impacts and increasing resilience of people, communities (including islands), and nature to the changing climate
  • Maintaining or exceeding Scottish net zero targets

Material Assets

  • Conserving, enhancing, and sustainably exploiting marine biological resources (e.g., fish stocks, fish spawning and nursery areas, and genetic stocks)
  • Minimising impacts on existing infrastructure (e.g., formal flood defences, coastal access routes, ports and harbours, and energy infrastructure) that could result in secondary natural and historic environmental impacts; Or allowing for the removal of infrastructure, where required, to minimise secondary impacts or aid in environmental enhancement

Cultural Heritage

  • Limiting impacts of marine activities, developments, and natural processes so as to protect and enhance coastal and marine historic and cultural heritage
  • Maximising the multiple benefits of the cultural environment


  • Conserving and enhancing the beauty, remoteness and wildness, where applicable, and sense of place of the natural and cultural environment and promoting the protection of coastal landscapes and seascapes

Inter-relationships/Interactions between these factors

  • Minimising and addressing cumulative effects of past, current and emerging human activities in the oceans, seas, coastal waters, and inter-linked freshwater environments, including alignment between marine and terrestrial
  • Ensuring consideration of ecosystem-scale impacts
  • Ensuring consideration of a natural capital lens to understanding plan impacts on ecosystem services

Table 2. SEA objectives used to assess the National Marine Plan 2015.

Topic: Communities, Population and Human Health

  • Maintain or improve the accessibility and connectivity of remote island and coastal communities?
  • Promote access to the coastal and marine resource for tourism and recreation?
  • Contribute to the resilience and cohesion of coastal and island communities?

Topic: Biodiversity, Flora, and Fauna

  • Avoid disturbance of key speciesas a result ofmarine activities?
  • Safeguard marine and coastal ecosystems and their interactions?

Topic: Water

  • Avoid pollution of the coastal and marine water environment?
  • Maintain and/or improve the ecological status of Scottish waters?

Topic: Air

  • Avoid adversely impacting on air quality, with particular regard to known existing concentrations oftransport and industrial related pollution close to the coast?

Topic: Climatic Factors

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vessels and other marine activities?
  • Contribute to adaptation to climate change?

Topic: Cultural Heritage

  • Improve understanding and knowledge about the marine historic environment?
  • Protect the site and setting of marine and coastal historic environment features?

Topic: Landscape/Seascape

  • Ensure that the value and special qualities of designated landscapes is protected?
  • Recognise and respect the value of wider (non-designated) landscapes and seascapes?
  • Encourage sectors to take into account the relative sensitivities of different seascapes?

Topic: Marine geology and coastal processes

  • Avoid exacerbating coastal erosion?
  • Maintain the integrity of coastal processes?
  • Maintain and protect the character and integrity of the seabed?

The view of the Consultation Authorities and interested parties on the key environmental issues (Table 1) and the 2015 objectives (Table 2) is sought.

Assessment Framework

3.8. The high-level objectives and specific objectives and policies in National Marine Plan 2 will be assessed against the SEA objectives. The assessment will also consider and record any cumulative and synergistic effects, along with the characterisation of these effects. Assessment of NMP2 objectives and policies against the SEA objectives will be undertaken alongside NMP2 development, as the development of the plan is an iterative process.

3.9. Findings will be summarised in narrative and set out in matrix format, including indication of the direction (i.e., positive or negative) and scale (i.e., strong or weak) of the magnitude of the effects and with explanation of how decisions were reached.

3.10. Reasonable alternatives to the plan objectives and policies will be identified during the policy development and assessments processes, as NMP2 development is an iterative process. These alternatives will relate to different prioritisation focuses and the achievement of wider Scottish government priorities. For example, alternatives could include plans focussed on prioritising economic growth, prioritising the achievement of net zero targets, prioritising the halting of biodiversity loss, or prioritising positive social outcomes. Any reasonable alternatives identified will also be assessed.

3.11. The results of the assessment will be reported in the Environmental Report and a non-technical summary will be included to aid in consultation.

Identifying mitigation and monitoring proposals

3.12. The SEA will identify mitigation and, where possible, enhancement measures as a key part of the assessments process. Any appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures identified through the SEA process will be incorporated into the National Marine Plan 2 policy development process.

3.13. Monitoring proposals will be identified and developed throughout the assessment process. They are likely to focus on the significant environmental effects that are identified throughout the SEA and on the implementation of mitigation measures where appropriate. Monitoring proposals will be incorporated with the wider monitoring and evaluation framework for National Marine Plan 2. Where possible, existing data sources, environmental indicators, and monitoring programmes will be utilised.

The views of the Consultation Authorities and interested parties on the proposed approach to the assessment of the National Marine Plan are sought.



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