National Marine Plan - A Summary of Objectives and Policies

Summary document containing the objectives and policies from the National Marine Plan.

Submarine Cables

Objectives and policies for this sector should be read subject to those set out in the General Policies and Strategic Objectives. It is recognised that not all of the objectives can necessarily be achieved directly through the marine planning system, but they are considered important context for planning and decision making.

1 Economic Social

Protect submarine cables whilst achieving successful seabed user co-existence.

2 Economic Social Marine Ecosystem

Achieve the highest possible quality and safety standards and reduce risks to all seabed users and the marine environment.

3 Economic Social

Support the development of a Digital Fibre Network, connecting Scotland's rural and island communities and contributing to world‑class connectivity across Scotland.

4 Economic Social

Safeguard and promote the global communications network.

5 Economic Social Climate Change - Mitigation

Support the generation, distribution and optimisation of electricity from traditional and renewable sources to Scotland, UK and beyond.

Marine planning policies

Economic Social Marine Ecosystem CABLES 1: Cable and network owners should engage with decision makers at the early planning stage to notify of any intention to lay, repair or replace cables before routes are selected and agreed. When making proposals, cable and network owners and marine users should evidence that they have taken a joined-up approach to development and activity to minimise impacts, where possible, on the marine historic and natural environment, the assets, infrastructures and other users. Appropriate and proportionate environmental considertion and risk assessments should be provided which may include cable protection measures and mitigation plans.

Any deposit, removal or dredging carried out for the purpose of executing emergency inspection or repair works to any cable is exempt from the marine licensing regime with approval by Scottish Ministers. However, cable replacement requires a marine licence. Marine Licensing Guidance should be followed when considering any cable development and activity.

Economic Social Marine Ecosystem CABLES 2: The following factors will be taken into account on a case by case basis when reaching decisions regarding submarine cable development and activities:

  • Cables should be suitably routed to provide sufficient requirements for installation and cable protection.
  • New cables should implement methods to minimise impacts on the environment, seabed and other users, where operationally possible and in accordance with relevant industry practice.
  • Cables should be buried to maximise protection where there are safety or seabed stability risks and to reduce conflict with other marine users and to protect the assets and infrastructure.
  • Where burial is demonstrated not to be feasible, cables may be suitably protected through recognised and approved measures (such as rock or mattress placement or cable armouring) where practicable and cost-effective and as risk assessments direct.
  • Consideration of the need to reinstate the seabed, undertake post-lay surveys and monitoring and carry out remedial action where required.

Economic Marine Ecosystem CABLES 3: A risk-based approach should be applied by network owners and decision makers to the removal of redundant submarine cables, with consideration given to cables being left in situ where this would minimise impacts on the marine historic and natural environment and other users.

Economic Climate Change - Mitigation CABLES 4: When selecting locations for land-fall of power and telecommunications equipment and cabling, developers and decision makers should consider the General Policies pertaining to flooding and coastal protection General Policies, and align with those in Scottish Planning Policy and Local Development Plans.

Regional policy: Regional marine plans should consider identifying suitable areas for land fall of submarine cables and integrate with spatial priorities for submarine cables within Local Development Plans. <applies to inshore waters>


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