4. Consultation Events in Kirkwall and Thurso
4.1.1 The Planning Issues and Options Consultation Paper ( PIOP) and draft Environmental Report ( ER) were out to consultation between 17 th July and 26 th July 2013 and the Working Group held two workshops to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to the development of the Plan.
4.1.2 The workshops were held at the King Street Halls in Kirkwall on 1 st July 2013 and in the Pentland Hotel in Thurso on 4 th July 2013. The consultation events consisted of a facilitated workshop during the day and a drop in session during the evening. There was also the opportunity to arrange face to face meetings with members of the working group.
4.1.3 The consultation events were carried out in conjunction with researchers from the International Centre for Island Technology ( ICIT) at Heriot Watt University who are part of a European project known as MESMA (Monitoring and Evaluation of Spatially Managed Areas). The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters is one of nine case studies within the MESMA project.
4.1.4 The work of Working Group and the ICIT Heriot Watt researchers is closely linked and the opportunity was taken to collaborate during the consultation events. Therefore, the workshops and the evening drop in sessions were divided into two parts with the Working Group leading the first half and ICIT Heriot Watt researchers leading the second half. This section of the reports the Working Group's part of the consultation and Section 5 deals with the responses from ICIT Heriot Watt.
4.1.5 The consultation events were publicised by invitations sent to the stakeholder database of around 250 stakeholders maintained by the Working Group. Further publicity to encourage a wider audience was provided by editorials in local newspapers, an A4 newspaper insert in The Orcadian, John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier, local authority Twitter and Facebook accounts, community websites, posters and local radio coverage.
4.1.6 For the workshop there was a request that participants register their interest in attending so that the Working Group knew how many people to expect and could divide participants up into groups. For each workshop there were five groups each with a facilitator and a scribe.
4.1.7 Prior to the workshop participants were sent a series of broad questions that were based around the PIOP ( Annex 3). It was emphasised that this did not preclude discussion of the draft Environmental Report and the questions were to encourage discussion.
4.1.8 The evening drop in sessions were open to all and the format was that the Working Group and ICIT Heriot Watt researchers were available between 17.30 and 21.00 hours with a presentation at 18.30 and an opportunity for discussion afterwards.
4.1.9 The face to face meetings were by appointment and the Working Group set aside time to allow for this.
4.2 Analysis of Responses
4.2.1 This section of the report includes a summary of the notes taken at the workshops and drop in sessions. It also includes a brief overview of the outcome of the two face to face meetings.
4.2.2 A short overview was sent to the workshop participants shortly after the events to rapidly provide a summary of the main points that had been raised. This Consultation Analysis provides a more detailed overview of the outcome.
4.2.3 ICIT Heriot Watt researchers will provide a summary of the outcome of their session in Section 5). This ensures all the information from the consultation events is all contained and reported in a single document.
4.3 Meetings with Individual Stakeholders
4.3.1 Two face to face meetings were arranged. The first was with Caithness Renewables on 3 July 2013 in Thurso and was attended by Working Group representatives from Marine Scotland and the Highland Council. Caithness Renewables gave an overview of their work and how they felt it could contribute to the Plan and the Working Group outlined the process of developing the Plan and where there was opportunity for consultation and input. Staff from Caithness Renewables attended the workshops and the drop in sessions in Thurso.
4.3.2 The second meeting was with a representative of both Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. and Pentland Canoe Club i.e. one person representing two separate interests. This meeting was held on 5 July 2013 in Inverness and was attended by a representative from Marine Scotland. A brief overview of the background of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and Pentland Canoe Club and their interest in the Plan was given. Further sources of information in relation to paddlesports was also provided.
4.4 Number of Participants at Workshops and Drop In Sessions
4.4.1 Prior to the workshops there were 34 participants registered for the Kirkwall event and 37 registered for Thurso. However, on the day of the events some people were not able to attend and others turned up to register on the day. The final numbers for Kirkwall were 34 participants and Thurso had 38. The list of organisations represented at each of the workshops is contained in Annex 4.
4.4.2 The participants were divided up into groups of about 6, each with a facilitator and a scribe, to work through the questions that had been sent out prior to the workshop.
4.4.3 Table 4.1 and Figures 4.1 and 4.2 provides a breakdown of the participants for both workshops. The categories have been kept as similar as possible to those used earlier in the document but it has been necessary to include further categories.
4.4.4 The list of participants was then divided into a detailed stakeholder sub-group, again following those used earlier in the document. These are shown in Table 4.2 and Figure 4.3 for both workshops.
4.4.5 There was a good range of representation at both workshops and the main difference between the participants was that Thurso had more representatives from Schools and Universities and Private Individuals and Kirkwall had more representation from fisheries associations.
4.4.6 For the drop in sessions there were approximately 24 participants at the Kirkwall events and 30 at the Thurso events. The majority of participants attended the presentations given by the Working Group and ICIT Heriot Watt although some could only attend part of the session.
|Broad Stakeholder Group||Kirkwall||Thurso|
|Fisheries and Aquaculture||5||1|
|School or University||2||8|
|Broad Stakeholder Group||Detailed Stakeholder Sub-Group||Kirkwall||Thurso|
|Other commercial bodies||1||2|
|Public Sector||Local Authorities||10||9|
|Other Public Bodies||1||0|
|Fisheries and Aquaculture||Fishermen's Associations||1||0|
|Local Fishing Association||4||0|
|Non-Governmental Organisations||Tourism Group||1||0|
|School or University||Students||2||6|
|Voluntary Sector||Natural History||2||0|
4.5 Analysis of Workshop Findings
4.5.1 The text below outlines the main points that were raised at the workshop events. These points have been obtained from the notes that the scribes made during the sessions and are, by necessity, a summary of what was discussed. The discussions were wide ranging and the text below aims to capture the main issues and provide an accurate overview of the discussions.
4.5.2 In the majority of cases the summaries consist of some specific aspects that could be added to the Plan and then more general comments that were raised in response to the questions.
4.6 Question 1
Purposes of the Marine Spatial Plan
4.6.1 In Kirkwall the specific issues raised in response to this question were:
- The Plan is lagging behind seabed leasing and marine development
- The Plan should respond to local priorities and the needs of the local communities
- The interests of existing marine and coastal users should be protected
- Clearly define and enable the delivery of sustainable development
4.6.2 In Thurso the specific issues raised in response to this question were:
- The Plan and its relationship to fisheries.
- Marine renewable energy developments.
- Addressing local community needs and protecting traditional marine activities.
- The Plan is an important vehicle for engaging with local communities.
- Integrating planning for land and sea.
4.6.3 More general points were also raised in both Kirkwall and Thurso during the discussions and these are listed under an overall theme below:
Integration of the Plan
- The relationship of the Plan with e.g. on-going planning, existing regulations, neighbouring authorities and aquaculture development should be made clear.
- Integration with terrestrial planning is needed.
- A Supplementary Guidance approach would enable more regular reviews to specific policy areas.
- The Plan and the lessons learned from the Plan should be transferable to other regions.
Clarity of the documents
- The documents should be written in plain English and be more user friendly.
- The consultation process should be clear.
- A strategic vision for the Plan could make it easier to see how and why the Plan has developed.
- There was support for sustainable development being the underlying purpose of the Plan but concerns over how this was defined.
- There is a need for a framework for future development.
- Recreational interests and the knowledge required to map e.g. anchorages was raised as an issue and potential knowledge gap.
- Understanding of existing fauna and flora.
- Concerns raised over who is the appropriate arbitrator over what constitutes 'robust and reliable information'.
- There is a need to know when and where work is carried out and clarity regarding the location of turbines and other activities.
- The Plan should identify areas where there is a presumption in favour of aquaculture development.
- Fishermen feel they are not consulted and that the Plan should aim to mitigate conflict.
- There is a need to protect traditional communities.
4.7 Question 2
Users of the Marine Plan
4.7.1 In Kirkwall the specific issues raised in relation to this question were:
- Local communities should be a higher priority
- The identified users of the Plan need to be expanded to
- The Crown Estate and government on a strategic level to identify future lease areas etc.
- Fisheries interests.
- Pressure groups.
- Non-Governmental Organisations ( NGOs).
4.7.2 In Thurso the specific issues raised in relation to this question were:
- The identified users of the plan need to be expanded to
- Grid providers.
- Subsea supply chain businesses.
- Oil and gas sector.
- Defence government bodies.
- Aquaculture companies.
- Schools and researchers.
- Larger sporting interests i.e. surfers.
- Caithness ports.
4.7.3 More general points were also raised in both Kirkwall and Thurso during the discussions and these are listed under an overall theme below:
Fishing and Aquaculture Interests
- Fishing has a long established history in the region and fishermen are important users of the marine environment and an example of sustainable development.
- There is a need to define fisheries types and include fish processing.
- There is a requirement for a presumption in favour of the development of salmon farming in the Plan.
Users of the Marine Environment
- There is a need to highlight pressure areas where there is a potential for clashes.
- Marine renewable energy development was felt to be a threat to marine transport and navigation and maritime safety, e.g. extra provision for emergency services, was felt to be central to the Plan.
- Users of the marine environment could inform future leasing areas.
- Groups may use the Plan in a wider way than stated so this section requires careful wording.
- There was a need for consultation between individuals to take account of the sporting interests in the area.
- There was a need for a central information system from a marine users point of view.
Local Communities and Local Authorities
- The use of the words "local communities" could be changed to "littoral communities" to take account of communities adjacent and directly linked to the coast.
- Within local communities one group may have more say versus another.
- It would be better to list all stakeholders equally.
- There was a view that local authorities will not have sufficient influence over the planning process and the decision making would be centralised - this was a cause for local concern.
- The local authority status of the Plan needs to be clear.
- There was also a view that Orkney had received special treatment when compared to Highland Region.
- The role of the Crown Estate Commissioners needs to be clarified.
- There were specific concerns from the recreational sailing sector regarding buoyage.
- Access to the minutes of the Working Group was raised.
4.8 Question 3
The Spatial Extent of the Plan
4.8.1 This question asked for participants to give their opinion on which of two suggested areas should be used for the Plan. The area based on the future Scottish Marine Regions gained the most support from participants.
4.8.2 There were some concerns regarding how the boundary in the Pentland Firth had been defined for the Scottish Marine Regions but there was a general consensus that the Plan area should be based on the proposed North Coast and Orkney Scottish Marine Regions.
4.8.3 Participants at both workshops also had general comments on the spatial extent of the Plan.
4.8.4 Some participants opposed including the North Coast Scottish Marine Region and believed Orkney should have greater autonomy. Conversely, others believed Orkney's "expansionism" was a matter of concern.
4.8.5 As the Scottish Marine Regions will become part of a statutory process participants felt it was a pragmatic approach to use them, as the Crown Estate's boundaries were never intended to be used for marine spatial planning.
4.8.6 There were some concerns expressed regarding how the area would be managed by the councils.
4.8.7 There was also concern that the areas are based on marine renewables and no other industries.
4.9 Question 4
Strategic Issues and Interactions
4.9.1 For this question the participants at the workshops in Kirkwall and Thurso raised similar specific issues in relation to the interactions matrix provided in the PIOP which corresponded to two main themes:
Improving the Interactions Matrix Approach
- The matrix was too simplified and needed to be more sophisticated.
- There was a need for sectoral activities to be analysed in greater depth and detail.
- Interactions could be broken down further e.g. distinguishing between various marine renewable energy technologies and types of fishing gear.
- It was suggested that separate sector specific matrices could be used to avoid over complication.
- Potential synergistic interactions could also be developed and presented.
- The approach should recognise that interactions can be two way as opposed to one sector impacting on another.
Identification and Magnitude of Interactions
- There were some specific changes suggested for some of the interactions in the matrix and these will be taken into account in the drafting of the Plan along with those identified in the consultation responses (analysed in Section 2).
- There were also some suggestions for additions to the
- Quality of life/Well being, climate change and non-native species should be a crosscutting/overarching issues,
- Defence (Ministry of Defence) should be identified as a sector.
- There were also suggestions that some sectors should be separated into more specific groups e.g. offshore wind should be separate from marine renewable energy technologies, oil and gas should be separated into production, exploration and refining and recreational boating should be separated into kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing and surfing.
- Potential future users should be included e.g. seaweed harvesting for biofuels.
- Potential positive effects should be identified e.g. non-fished areas for marine renewables could act as nursery grounds to sustain fishing.
4.9.2 The discussions around this question also raised some general points that are reflected below under general themes.
Quality of Life and Well Being
It can be difficult to quantify undeveloped environments and economic issues can dominate discussions but quality of life and well being should be taken into account. It was noted that Gross Domestic Product is not the only measure of success.
It was noted that the roles of Marine Scotland and the Local Authority need to be clear with one liaison person in each organisation. Marine planners need to be involved in the process but there are very few of these specialist roles. The interaction between marine and terrestrial planning is a grey area, which could lead to confusion so this interaction needs to be clear. The use of consistent language in the Scottish Government Planning Circular and related marine planning documents was emphasised.
Format of the Interactions Matrix
As well as suggestions for additions and changes to the interactions included in the matrix there were also some suggestions as to how the matrix could be made more user friendly. These included using a traffic light system to highlight potential compatible and conflicting interactions. It was acknowledged that different people will have different perceptions of interactions and that the matrix has to balance being overly complex with raising awareness amongst industry sectors.
There were also comments regarding the need for compensation for conflicts with commercial fisheries and concerns over the visual impact of marine renewable devices on tourism and seascape. It was suggested that consideration should be given to a Marine Park to protect the seascape and that Environmental Impact Assessment should take into account the impacts and stop the process if necessary. It was also noted that a clear vision for the Plan could help clarify the process.
4.10 Question 5
Crosscutting or Overarching Marine Planning Policies
4.10.1 Participants at both workshops suggested some additional policies and also made comments in relation to specific policies. The additional policies from each workshop are listed below and then comments related to each policy are combined and summarised.
4.10.2 The additional policies suggested were:
- Socio-economic impact policy (Kirkwall) and economic development or job creation policy (Thurso). This was felt to be a distinct issue that needed to be separate from a sustainable development policy. The participants at the Kirkwall event felt that a policy such as this could help establish an appropriate policy framework that could identify mitigation for any problems generated.
- Quality of life and well-being policy (Kirkwall). This was raised by a number of the groups at the Kirkwall workshop and it was proposed that a policy should be developed that encompasses the factors that contribute to quality of life over and above the measurable economic benefits.
- Maritime safety was suggested as a separate policy by participants in Thurso i.e. not included under shipping and navigation.
4.10.3 Proposed Policy 1a: Sustainable Development
Participants at both workshops provided comments in relation to this policy and the main points raised were that there was general support for this policy although some participants did not agree with the definition as set out in the document. It was noted that the preferred option did not take account of economic growth and social benefits. The participants supported the vision of the marine spatial plan clearly defining how sustainable development will be achieved. Participants felt the definition of sustainability should include, or be linked to, maintaining independence of island populations, linking aquaculture industry to food security and the Local Development Plan, issues such as employment, livelihood, equality, justice and education.
4.10.4 Proposed Policy 2a: Integrating marine and coastal development
Participants at both workshops provided comments in relation to this policy. There was general support for policies that integrate marine, coastal and terrestrial planning and the need to make this integration clear was emphasised. It was noted that Local Development Plans should be referenced and linked to the marine spatial plan. Some participants in the Kirkwall workshop considered it essential that the marine spatial plan becomes a material consideration in marine licensing and other consenting regimes. Some participants raised the issue of Udal Law in defining the land-sea boundary and subsequent decision making.
4.10.5 Proposed Policy 3a: Nature conservation designations
Participants at the Thurso workshop supported this policy to meet legislative requirements and suggested it should be closely linked to the proposed Marine Protected Areas. The issue of connectivity between Natura sites (including those outwith the area) was also raised although it was acknowledged that mapping and connectivity of designations is complicated.
4.10.6 Proposed Policy 3c: Wider biodiversity and geodiversity interests
Participants in Kirkwall felt this policy would have to be very specific about the habitats and species that are of relevance to marine planning decisions and that there are too many unknowns at present to enable this policy to be effectively implemented. It was suggested supplementary guidance could be used to enable the policy to be easily changed as knowledge becomes available. Specific concerns were raised over new aquaculture sites and their impact on sea trout populations. The Orkney Trout Fishing Association feels their advice on stricter restrictions has been ignored.
4.10.7 Proposed Policy 3e: Non-native species
A general comment was made in Kirkwall that controlling the risks associated with introducing non-native species is covered by existing policy and regulations. There was also support expressed for the alternative approach regarding ballast water.
4.10.8 Proposed Policy 3e: Landscape and seascape
Participants in Thurso thought landscape and seascape character assessments should inform policy development and scenario mapping should help inform the public about potential future developments and impacts. Participants in Kirkwall thought existing guidelines regarding landscape/seascape needed to be more specific and that assessing seascape is a new area of work that needs to be developed. There was support for a "local-based" development of this policy.
4.10.9 Proposed Policy 4a: Cultural and historic environment
In Kirkwall participants expressed the view that submerged landscapes should be included as a category in this policy. There was disagreement with the proposed alternative approach as it was felt that undesignated archaeology should be protected by this policy.
4.10.10 Proposed Policy 5a: Water Environment
Participants in Thurso noted that there may be water environment problems associated with development in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters although there is currently limited understanding as to what these may be. New information and research should be incorporated into policy development. Participants in Kirkwall noted that this policy needs to be clear as to what it does and does not cover. Concerns regarding salmon farming and nutrient pollution were reiterated as was the view that these concerns are being ignored.
4.10.11 Proposed Policy 6a: Coastal erosion and flooding
Participants in Kirkwall stated that this policy should include the assessment of potentially positive impacts; renewables can influence wave action etc. and therefore have potential for reducing/preventing flooding and erosion.
4.10.12 Proposed Policy 7a: Waste Management and Marine Litter
Participants in Kirkwall considered waste management plans used for terrestrial waste could be used within the marine environment. Marine litter was considered to be a separate issue and it was suggested that it be removed from this policy and linked to Proposed Policy 5a (Water Environment) so it could be addressed with water quality at beaches.
4.10.13 There were also some general comments that arose from the discussion of this question and the main themes are summarised below:
- There was general support for the policies but that there should be more information and detail within the Plan and cumulative impacts need to be reflected.
- Some participants thought policies 8a, 9a and 10a could be removed and dealt with by a statement within the Plan.
- Community involvement was considered to be important to influence the definitions and aims of the Plan and community value should be defined and quantified.
- There is local pride in the pristine environment.
- There should be links to the National Marine Plan and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
- The overarching policies could be called "General Policies".
- Existing uses should be sustained to accommodate emerging industries rather than identifying new development sites and expecting existing industries to adapt accordingly.
- There is a general concern that there is too much focus on Orkney.
- The fishing community was given as an example of an industry that discusses policy issues and compatibility with renewable energy developers and works towards coexistence via common cooperation agreements.
4.11 Question 6
4.11.1 No additional sectoral policies were suggested at either workshop. However, participants at both workshops provided comments on specific policies and these are summarised below:
4.11.2 Proposed Policy 11: Marine renewable energy
- The definitions and language within the policy should be specific e.g. when defining other marine users, does marine renewable energy include offshore wind? References to the Scottish Government's Sectoral plan should be correct.
- There is a perception that profit is taken away from Orkney by multinationals and local people do not benefit.
- The issue of coexistence was welcomed but also raised concerns as to whether it was possible to achieve. The issues of exclusion zones around devices and platforms and their impact on commercial fishing was noted.
- There was a comment that applying terrestrial thinking to marine issues is flawed as the sea cannot be mapped in the same way as terrestrial areas.
- There were concerns about the water column and sea surface rights and the impact that Crown Estate policies have on these issues.
- The potential for non-fished renewable energy areas to act as nurseries to sustain fishing was raised.
- Participants expressed concern about the impact of wave devices on seascapes.
4.11.3 Proposed Policy 12: Electricity infrastructure to support marine renewable energy projects
Participants at both workshops contributed points to this discussion which are outlined below:
- There were several comments in relation to the impact of onshore infrastructure such as the possible provision of a visual demonstration of the structures, consideration of the socioeconomic consequences, proper consultation on siting of infrastructure and possible over reliance on desk-top modelling over anecdotal, non-scientific knowledge when choosing locations.
- There were different opinions over the impacts of electromagnetic fields with some participants considering them an issue and others not.
- Consultation on when cable laying is taking place was felt to be important as there may be seasonal constraints. The need (or not) for cable burial was also raised as was the issue of de-commissioning the cable. There was a view that sometimes it may be better to leave the cable in situ. Participants raised a question as to whether de-commissioning should be included in the policy.
- Other issues were that the policy could be called "service infrastructure" and also that the policy should not necessarily be specific to the marine renewable energy developments and that integrated grid connections is a key issue.
4.11.4 Proposed Policy 13: Shipping, navigation and marine safety
Participants in Kirkwall provided comments on this issue and noted that marine energy development could have an impact on local service provision e.g. block booking of public ferry space. There was also criticism of "simplistic" attempts to define navigation routes into narrow areas when the reality is far more complex.
4.11.5 Proposed Policy 14: Ports and Harbours
There were comments in relation to this proposed policy in both Kirkwall and Thurso. The main issues raised were that the policy should support the development of new sites rather than just existing ones and that there should be a clear criteria for selecting port sites. There was also discussion regarding existing policy for ports and harbours and that care was needed to not "overdo it" in terms of new policy. The links between National Planning Frameworks 2 and 3 ( NPF 2 and 3) was also raised and it was suggested that the differences between the two frameworks was noted in the proposed policy e.g. Scapa Flow was downgraded in NPF 3.
4.11.6 Proposed Policy 16: Marine aggregates and dredging
Participants in Kirkwall suggested that dredging could be moved to the Ports and Harbours policy or should be a stand alone policy and that the Plan should consider locations for depositing dredging waste.
4.11.7 Proposed Policy 19: Commercial fisheries
Participants in Kirkwall raised the following issues in relation to this policy.
It was noted that the fishing industry is disjointed and less able to negotiate as a body and that it can be difficult to when there are competing interests between the fishermen themselves. There is not direct comparison for this in terrestrial planning. Transparent decision making is key and compromise is required by both sides of the debate e.g. smaller or fewer devices or lower-intensity fishing in a shared area.
Participants also discussed the fact that fishing regulations are EU-based and this can have an impact at a local level when the value lost to fishermen on a low income can be onerous. The protection of fisheries and compensation where necessary was also raised. It was noted that the value of fishing in the Planning Issues and Options paper section 12.30 was incorrect. This is noted in the relevant section above and will be corrected.
Other issues raised were that spawning grounds are a constraint and that displacement of existing fishing could lead to increased pressure elsewhere.
4.11.8 Proposed Policy 20: Aquaculture
Participants in both Kirkwall and Thurso provided comments on this proposed policy. In Kirkwall concerns were raised that the consultation process between environmental consultants and regulators is failing and that there was a lack of community benefit from the aquaculture industry.
In Thurso a representative of the aquaculture industry would like to see a presumption in favour of aquaculture based on areas of search and the constraints that may be present in them and that this should be reflected in the local council Supplementary Guidance. There was also a request to ensure text in paragraphs 12.34 and 12.35 of the Planning Issues and Options paper was linked to current Scottish Government policies and the National Marine Plan.
4.11.9 Proposed Policy 21: Tourism and recreation
Participants in Kirkwall raised the issue of the effect the marine renewable energy development on recreational use e.g. near shore wave devices and pipeline landfall. Concerns were raised regarding the ordering of the policies and whether this was in order of priority and also that the Planning Issues and Options Consultation Paper section on tourism and recreation did not have enough emphasis on marine planning. It was also noted that recreation users are disjointed and less able to negotiate as a body.
4.11.10 Participants at both workshops provided general comments in relation to the proposed sectoral policies and these are noted below:
- It is important that users read the whole Plan as opposed to focusing on only the sector they are interested in.
- There was a comment that the document is a vehicle to allow already decided policies to progress.
- National Farmers Union Orkney is not mentioned in plan list recipients
- It should be made clear that the policies are listed "in no particular order".
- A "guiding principle" emerged that all involved in the planning process should have equal access to information.
- What happens where there is no capacity to represent local interests? ( e.g. there is no fishermen's association in Caithness).
- The possibility of a directory of local expertise and specialists to encourage shopping locally for services was raised.
- Community benefit should be accounted for in policies.
- General sense that there is too much focus on Orkney.
- Most preferred options at this point are very vague and refer to creation of policy later.
- There is a real need to capture knowledge from local specialists in local coastal community ( e.g. fishers and skippers etc.).
- There were examples of contractors from "the South" making "stupid mistakes" because they hadn't sought out local expertise.
4.11.11 This part of the workshop also allowed for discussion on whether the marine spatial plan should "zone" areas of sea for specific developments. Participants were asked to discuss the key challenges and issues that could arise from taking this approach and also the potential advantages and disadvantages.
4.10.11 In Kirkwall, the discussions around zoning raised very interesting debate to inform the development of the Plan. The general consensus was that given the current state of knowledge of environment impacts, technology development and marine activities/use, zoning was not a realistic prospect in the short to medium term. The principle of supporting coexistence and compatibility between marine users was considered the preferred approach.
4.11.12 Many stakeholders thought that there is no evidence of absolute incompatibility at this stage so 'no go' areas or restricted use zones would be premature. It was generally agreed that a criteria based policy approach was the most realistic and pragmatic way forward.
4.11.13 Some stakeholders believed that a zoning approach could bring benefits but we are not in a position to do this at present. A criteria based policy approach was broadly supported but it was acknowledged that this would add uncertainty and introduce potential challenges to decision makers.
4.10.12 Participants in Kirkwall identified the following advantages to supporting coexistence and compatibility between marine users:
- Having a 'mixed use' or integrated approach is more difficult but far better as more diverse economic development can take place e.g. fisheries, energy, recreation, aquaculture.
- You would end up with a more efficient use of the sea.
- You end up with better communication between various stakeholders/bodies/groups when taking a mixed approach i.e. it 'forces' the various sectors to talk to each other and identify synergies
4.10.13 Participants in Kirkwall identified the following disadvantages to zoning areas of sea for specific economic activities or specific uses:
- There is not enough knowledge at this time and it would constrain potential cooperative and compatible uses.
- Zoning is too restrictive and can stifles commercial development.
- Zoning reduces the potential for synergies between sectors.
- Zoning shuts people out, it is perceived that you need to consult/communicate with other parties.
4.10.14 General comments on compatibility v zoning approach from Kirkwall
- Current users should have priority e.g. fishing.
- Zones should not allow only a particular type of development and should only zone existing uses and look to protect areas from incompatible uses.
- Any zoning would need to be in 3D ( i.e. different for seabed, water column, surface). Resource map may be helpful to identify fishing grounds etc.
- Zoning should only be delivered via low level guidance.
- Planners should look at existing uses and see what can fit with this.
- Crown Estate in effect zone by issuing leases for specific use.
- Crown Estate areas are options but not exclusive and are offered subject to license being issued.
4.11.14 In Thurso, there was a general acceptance that there will be conservation zones and Marine Protected Areas established by law, and international obligations for freedom of navigation that will inevitably describe or prescribe certain zones. Some participants considered that development should be allowed in all other areas and development should be considered at least possible on a case by case basis. There were concerns that zoning could have the potential to sterilise potential development areas, and once zoned off (sterilised) there is a very real danger that this would be cast in stone and irreversible.
4.11.15 General comments on compatibility v zoning approach from Thurso
- It was agreed that co-existence (rather than using zoned areas) was the best approach but that it would be difficult to manage.
- Zoning vs policy-based - zoning could create more conflict.
- General agreement that zoning not ideal, policy-based multi-use preferred, though some activities may take precedence in certain areas.
4.11.16 Static v non-static mapping and the use of a Geographical Information System ( GIS)
4.11.17 In Kirkwall participants also discussed the use of mapping in the marine spatial plan and the use of a continually evolving GIS to support the plan.
4.11.18 Views were divided over whether a continually evolving GIS (which responds to new knowledge and understanding of marine environment) could form part of a statutory marine spatial plan. If spatial data is not fixed ( i.e. it forms part of the plan) it would not be statutory and would be open to challenge. Some participants questioned how effective a continually evolving GIS could be in decision making aside from giving an indication to potential developers.
4.11.19 A possible way forward could be that the policies in the plan would identify the specific spatial information that forms part of the plan. Other supporting spatial information that provides the most up to date mapping could be more fluid and issued through evolving GIS system. The plan would have to clearly state what spatial information forms part of the plan and what is supporting information.
- The workshops were well attended by a wide range of participants.
- There were wide ranging discussions with many different views expressed.
- The importance of "quality of life" was issue raised and it was suggested this should be a policy within the Plan.
- There were suggestions for how the clarity of the documents could be improved and information provided to support this.
- There was general agreement that the Plan area should be based on the Scottish Marine Regions.
- The participants did not think zoning use was advisable at this stage of the Plan.