Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment.

A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA)

1. Purpose and intended effect


1.1 In 2009 the Marine and Coastal Access Act was published containing provisions aimed at the effective management of the UK marine environment. The Act sets in place the foundation for the adoption by the UK Government of both a marine planning system and a Marine Policy Statement covering UK territorial waters. The UK Marine Policy Statement ( UK MPS) was published and adopted by all UK administrations in 2011.

1.2 The UK MPS is a high-level policy framework that aims to guide the preparation and implementation of marine plans in the UK. The UK MPS contains provision for the adoption of a system of marine planning that includes National Marine Plans and the preparation of sub-national Regional Marine Plans. Alongside the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) and the UK MPS, the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 also sets in place a framework for the implementation of a network of Regional Marine Plans.

1.3 The provisions contained in the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 include the requirement for Scottish ministers to prepare and adopt a National Marine Plan covering Scottish waters whilst a Marine Policy Statement is in place. Scotland's National Marine Plan ( NMP) was published in March 2015. All Regional Marine Plans produced under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 must comply with the aims and policies contained within the adopted NMP and the UK MPS.

1.4 The NMP contains policy guidance and provides a framework for the production of Regional Marine Plans. Marine Planning Partnerships will be responsible for the production of future Regional Marine Plans. The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan ( PFOW MSP) has been produced to trial the process of regional marine planning.

1.5 The Plan aims to trial the approach that future Marine Planning Partnerships may take in the preparation of suitable policies (including interpreting the policy framework of the NMP within a local context) and the approach that may be taken to governance of Marine Planning Partnerships (including local authority and stakeholder involvement). The pilot Plan is therefore a non-statutory precursor to the Regional Marine Plans. Whilst the pilot Plan does not form part of the statutory marine planning system, it is hoped that it will be used as a material consideration in existing marine management, planning and consenting processes.

1.6 The pilot PFOW MSP includes two of the Scottish Marine Regions designated through the Scottish Marine Regions Order 2015 (Orkney and the North Coast). The Scottish Marine Regions covered by the pilot Plan area are similar to regions identified in Scotland's Third National Planning Framework ( NPF3) as areas of key significance in delivering the Scottish Government's Low Carbon Strategy (Orkney, Pentland Firth and North Caithness). It is hoped that this pilot Plan will be a key mechanism in delivering the development of the marine renewable energy sector in the area, both directly (as a consideration in current processes) and indirectly as a precursor to the statutory Regional Marine Plans.

1.7 With this background in mind the pilot PFOW MSP has been developed in accordance with the NMP and all preceding legislation with a bearing on marine planning. The pilot PFOW MSP also sits within the international framework for marine planning that includes the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the European Union Maritime Spatial Planning Directive and various other European Union directives (such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive).


1.8 The pilot PFOW MSP aims to put in place a non-statutory planning and policy framework in advance of statutory regional marine planning. It is hoped that the development of this Plan will be useful in establishing the basis for two separate Regional Marine Plans for Orkney and North Coast Scottish Marine Regions. Piloting the marine spatial planning process will provide many lessons learnt that will be helpful in informing the preparation of future regional marine plans and the governance arrangements that may underpin future Marine Planning Partnerships.

1.9 In meeting these aims the pilot Plan will be meeting the Scottish Government purpose as outlined in the Government Economic Strategy; to create a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth. It will also contribute to the following national outcomes:

  • we live in a well-designed, sustainable place where we are able to access the amenities and services we need
  • we value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations
  • we live in a Scotland that is the most attractive place for doing business in Europe
  • we reduce the local and global environmental impact of our consumption and production
  • we realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people

1.10 The pilot PFOW MSP will help meet the Scottish Government's aim to have clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. The Plan will also help to meet the Scottish Government goal to have seas that are managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people.

Rationale for Government intervention

1.11 The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters are used by a wide range of marine users and for a variety of activities. A vast majority of the Plan area is used for multiple activities and so there is potential for competition and conflict. Whilst the Plan area has been highlighted as a key area for the development of the offshore renewable energy generation industry in Scotland, the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters also contain a variety of important and rare species as well as a range of internationally important historic sites. The variety of potentially competing uses of the area creates the risk that the marine environment may be mismanaged and damaged with consequences for both the goods and services it provides and the natural and historic heritage of the area. Poor management of the area could result in costs and uncertainty for developers and marine users which could have a negative impact on progress towards fulfilling Scottish Government national outcomes in the area. The NMP (and the policy framework it sits within) has provided for a system of statutory Regional Marine Plans to aid in the management of the marine environment.

1.12 The pilot Plan has been developed to pilot the process of creating the statutory Plans and to inform the Marine Planning Partnerships which will be formed to produce them. The production of this pilot Plan will contribute to the effective preparation of the Regional Marine Plans. In addition to this, the pilot Plan will be used as a material consideration in the determination of marine licensing and section 36 consent applications within the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council will have the option to adopt the final pilot Plan as non-statutory planning guidance, acknowledging the status of the Plan as a material consideration in the determination of relevant planning applications. Orkney Islands Council will also be provided with the option to approve the Plan as a material consideration in the determination of works licence applications.


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