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

A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA)

Annex A: Baseline Policies in the pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan

Policy Title Policy Text
General Policy 1A: Sustainable Development Development(s) and/or activities will be supported by this Plan when it can be demonstrated that:
  • they will not have significant adverse direct, indirect or cumulative social, environmental or economic effects
  • they will maintain and, where possible, enhance, existing built, natural and cultural heritage resources
  • they will make efficient use of marine space, and where appropriate, maximise opportunities for co-existence between marine users and support the multiple use of marine space
  • they will not create an unacceptable burden on existing infrastructure and services that cannot be resolved

Public authorities should adhere to the following sustainable development principles in the determination of any authorisation or enforcement decision:
  • the protection and, where appropriate, enhancement of the health of the marine area
  • maximise opportunities for lasting social, environmental and economic benefits balancing these considerations through the consenting process
  • maximise the efficient use of existing infrastructure and services ( e.g. port and harbour infrastructure)
  • support the efficient use of marine space and co-existence between marine users
  • sound science has been used responsibly
General Policy 3: Climate Change Development(s) and/or activities will be supported by the Plan where the proposal can demonstrate appropriate:
  • measures to mitigate the effects of climate change
  • measures taken to adapt to climate change
  • resilience has been built into the project over its lifetime
All proposals for development(s) and/or activities must minimise, as far as practicable, emissions of greenhouse gases and clearly demonstrate mitigation measures taken.
General Policy 4A: Nature Conservation Designations The Plan will support development(s) and/or activities where due regard is given to the importance of international, national and locally designated nature conservation sites.
Internationally designated sites
Development(s) and/or activities likely to have a significant effect on a site designated or proposed to be designated as a SPA or SAC (collectively known as Natura 2000 sites) alone or in combination and not directly connected with, or necessary to the conservation management of that site, must be subject to an Appropriate Assessment in order to assess the implications for the site's conservation objectives.
Development(s) and/or activities will only be permitted in circumstances where the assessment ascertains that:
  • they would not adversely affect the objectives of the designation or the integrity of the site; or
  • there is no alternative solution; and
  • there are imperative reasons of over-riding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature.

The international importance of Ramsar sites should also be appropriately protected.
Nationally designated sites
Development(s) and/or activities capable of affecting a Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area ( NC MPA) will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the relevant public authority that there is no significant risk of hindering the achievement of the conservation objectives of the NC MPA. Where this cannot be satisfactorily demonstrated authorisation can only be granted if the relevant public authority is satisfied that:
  • there is no alternative that would have a substantially lower risk of hindering the achievement of the conservation objectives of the NC MPA;
  • the public benefit outweighs the risk of damage to the environment; and
  • the applicant will arrange, to the satisfaction of Scottish Ministers, for measures of equivalent environmental benefit to the damage that will or is likely to occur.
Development(s) and/or activities that affect a SSSI or Geological Conservation Review ( GCR) site will only be permitted where (for SSSIs) the objectives of designation and overall integrity of the area, or (for GCR sites) the reasons for selection, will not be compromised, or where significant adverse effects on the qualities for which the area has been designated/selected are clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic benefits of national importance.

Locally designated sites

Development(s) and/or activities that affect a Local Nature Conservation Site ( LNCS) or Local Nature Reserve ( LNR) will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the consenting authority that any significant adverse impact on the integrity of the site, or the qualities for which it has been designated, have been appropriately addressed or mitigated or any such impact is clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic benefits and there is no satisfactory alternative.
In addition, in all cases where development(s) and/or activities affecting a nature conservation site can be consented, satisfactory mitigation measures will be required to minimise any potential adverse impacts during the construction, lifetime and decommissioning of the development(s) and/or activities.
Where the impact of development(s) and/or activities on an international, national or local natural heritage resource are uncertain, but there are good scientific grounds that significant irreversible damage could occur, the precautionary principle will apply.
General Policy 4B: Protected Species The Plan will not support development(s) and/or activities that would be likely to have an adverse effect on a European Protected Species unless the relevant consenting or planning authority is satisfied:
  • there is no satisfactory alternative;
  • the development(s) and/or activities are required for preserving public health or public safety or there are other imperative reasons of overriding public interest; and
  • the development(s) and/or activities would not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of a European Protected Species concerned at a favourable conservation status in its natural range.

Where the impacts of development(s) and/or activities on an internationally or nationally protected species are uncertain, but there are good scientific grounds that significant irreversible damage could occur, the precautionary principle will apply.
Development(s) and/or activities will only be permitted where they comply with any licence granted by the appropriate authority required for the purpose of species protection.
Development(s) and/or activities likely to have an adverse effect on other species protected under current wildlife legislation, individually and/or cumulatively will only be permitted if those effects can be mitigated to the satisfaction of the relevant consenting or planning authority, or if they are satisfied that legislative requirements to proceed can be met.
General Policy 4D: Landscape and Seascape The siting and design of any proposed development(s) and/or activities should demonstrate how the proposal takes into account visual impact and existing character and quality of landscape and seascape.
Development(s) and/or activities that affect National Scenic Areas ( NSAs) and Special Landscape Areas ( SLAs) should only be permitted where:
  • they will not adversely affect the integrity of the area or its special qualities for which it has been designated; or
  • any significant adverse effects are clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic benefits of national importance for NSAs and local importance for SLAs.

Scottish Planning Policy should be considered in both the planning and decision-making stages.
General Policy 4E: Geodiversity Development and/or activities will only be supported by this Plan where they:
  • do not have a significant adverse effect on geodiversity interests of international, national and regional/local importance
  • provide mitigation to minimise any adverse effects on such features
General Policy 5B: Coastal Processes and Flooding The Plan will support proposals for development and/or activities, including any linked shore-base requirements, that demonstrate, potentially by way of a flood risk assessment:
  • compliance with Scottish Planning Policy
  • that they will not exacerbate present or future risks of flooding or erosion
  • that sensitive uses, such as accommodation, should generally not be located in areas shown to be at risk of flooding unless appropriate measures are in place
  • how resilience and adaptation strategies have been incorporated within proposed developments over their lifetime to adapt to the effects of climate change, coastal erosion and coastal flooding

Any development must not compromise the objectives of the Flood Risk Management Act.
General Policy 6: Historic Environment Development(s) and/or activities with potential to have an adverse effect on the archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic significance of heritage assets, including their settings, will be expected to demonstrate that all reasonable measures will be taken to mitigate any loss of significance, and that any lost significance which cannot be mitigated is outweighed by social, economic, environmental, navigation or safety benefits.
Preservation in situ will always be the preferred form of mitigation. The results of any mitigation measures must be published in an agreed format, and all supplementary material lodged with an agreed publicly accessible archive.
Heritage assets of very high significance should be protected from all but minor adverse effects to their significance unless there are overwhelming social, economic or environmental benefits from the development(s) and/or activities. For these sites the highest levels of mitigation will be required. This includes sites where there is a substantial likelihood of the survival of human remains, and protected sites identified in Table 3.
For those sites which are designated, licences or consents are likely to be required from the relevant authority before the commencement of development(s) and/or activities. Receiving these consents may be a condition of marine licence approval. Proposals for development(s) and/or activities that may affect the historic environment should provide information on the significance of known heritage assets and the potential for new discoveries to arise. They should demonstrate how any adverse impacts will be avoided, or if not possible minimised and mitigated. Where it is not possible to minimise or mitigate impacts, the benefits of proceeding with the proposal should be clearly set out.
General Policy 8A: Noise This Plan will support development(s) and/or activities in the marine environment where:
  • developers have avoided significant adverse effects:
  • o of man-made underwater noise and vibration on species sensitive to such effects
  • o of man-made noise, vibration and/or disturbance on the amenity of local communities and marine users
  • applications for marine development(s) and/or activities that are likely to have significant noise impacts (on sensitive species and/or people) include a noise impact assessment or supporting information to describe the duration, type and level of noise expected to be generated at all stages of the development (construction, operation, decommissioning)
  • mitigation measures are in place to minimise the adverse impacts associated with the duration and level of significant noise activity
  • the cumulative effects of noise in the marine environment and on local communities have been assessed
  • developers have considered whether the level of surface or underwater noise has the potential to affect a European Protected Species ( EPS) and have noted that any development(s) and/or activities which have the potential to disturb an EPS (otters, cetaceans) will require an EPS licence
  • developers have consulted with the local planning authority, Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage in relation to potential noise impacts as early as possible in the design and development of any marine-related project
General Policy 8B: Waste and Marine Litter All developers and users of the marine environment should seek to minimise waste and discard all litter responsibly, recycling where possible.
Proposals for new development(s) or modifications to existing activities shall ensure that waste is reduced to a minimum and they do not add to marine litter.
Large developments may require a waste management plan, which shall be adhered to as a condition of the development, where appropriate. Where this is the case, a draft plan should be included in the application.
Where unavoidable litter is created, e.g. due to storms, a means of recovery, where reasonably practical, should be deployed.
Where appropriate, a decommissioning plan should be provided to ensure removal of redundant infrastructure.
Sectoral Policy 2: Aquaculture Aquaculture developments will be supported by the Plan where they are in compliance with:
  • Local Development Plans for Orkney Islands Council or Highland Council and any related planning guidance as appropriate
  • any Marine Scotland or Scottish Environment Protection Agency licensing requirements and guidance

The Plan will support the sustainable growth of seaweed cultivation where it complies with any licensing or subsequent planning requirements.
Sectoral Policy 3: Oil and Gas Exploration and production of oil and gas will be supported by this Plan, working with DECC, the Oil and Gas Authority and Competent Authority when:
  • oil and gas exploration and production are conducted in accordance with regulations
  • there is an approved Oil Pollution Emergency Plan in place that has the agreement with the appropriate authorities to respond to any accidental release of oil or gas and related hazardous substances
  • all oil and gas platforms have in place nine nautical mile consultation zones in line with Civil Aviation guidance
  • connections to shore base and associated infrastructure take into account environmental and socio-economic constraints
  • appropriate monitoring programmes and detailed restoration and maintenance proposals based on standard best practice are in place
  • re-use of oil and gas infrastructure is considered and, where not practicable, decommissioning takes place in line with standard practice, and as allowed by international obligations
Sectoral Policy 6: Marine Transport Development(s) and/or activities will be supported by this Plan when it can be demonstrated that:
  • Adverse impacts on existing or planned shipping and ferry routes, navigational safety and access to ports and harbours have been avoided or appropriately mitigated, taking account of movements in all weather conditions

Proposed development(s) and/or activities which would have an adverse impact on efficient and safe movement of shipping between ports, harbours and other recognised anchorages should be refused.
Sectoral Policy 7: Ports, Harbours and Dredging The sustainable growth of the ports and harbours within the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area, particularly within existing facilities, will be supported by the Plan where:
  • access to ports and harbours is not restricted
  • safety considerations are primary
  • navigational routes are not compromised

Dredging within the PFOW area will be supported by the Plan where:
  • dredged material is recycled or disposed of in appropriate locations
Sectoral Policy 8: Pipelines, Electricity and Telecommunications Infrastructure Safeguarding existing pipelines, electricity and telecommunications cables

Development(s) and/or activities that could potentially damage cables or pipelines should comply with relevant industry requirements with regard to any proposed works and safety considerations. Information sources such as KIS- ORCA can be used to ensure the location of cables are known and taken account of when carrying out such activities.

Electricity and telecommunications infrastructure

When laying or replacing electricity and telecommunications infrastructure the following considerations should be taken into account on a case-by-case basis:
Developers should ensure that they have engaged with other developers and decision makers at an early planning stage and taken a joined-up approach to minimise impacts on the marine historic and natural environment, the assets, infrastructures and other marine users. Appropriate and proportionate environmental consideration 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 14 from the marine licensing regime with approval by Scottish Ministers. However, cable replacement requires a marine licence and is subject to the marine licensing process. Marine licensing guidance should be followed when considering any cable development and activity.
Cables should be suitably routed to provide sufficient requirements for installation and cable protection. New cables should implement methods to minimise impacts on the marine historic and natural environment, the assets, infrastructures and other marine 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 to reduce conflict with other marine users and to protect the assets and infrastructure. However, it should be noted that not all cables will, or can, be buried depending on project requirements and circumstances.
Where burial is demonstrated not to be feasible, cables may be suitably protected through recognised and approved measures (such as rock or mattress placement, cable armouring, shore end marker beacons and admiralty chart updates) where practicable and cost-effective and as risk assessment direct.
The need to reinstate the seabed, undertake post-lay surveys and monitoring and carry out remedial action where required.
The proposed land fall of power and telecommunications equipment and cabling will be considered against the appropriate policies in the relevant Local Development Plan(s).
A risk-based approach should be applied by network owners and decision-makers to the removal of redundant cables, with consideration given to cables being left in situ where this would minimise impacts on the marine, historic and natural environment and other marine users.

14 The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order
2011 (Amended 2012)
Sectoral Policy 10: Defence Development proposals in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area that are in, or affect, Ministry of Defence exercise areas, firing ranges or firing danger areas must ensure that agreement for such use of the area has been agreed with the Ministry of Defence.


Back to top