Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. Lessons Learned.

A summary of the Lessons Learned during the process of developing the pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan.

7 Preparing supporting documents

Topics covered:

a) Framework & Regional Locational Guidance ( RLG)

b) Stage 2 studies

c) Sustainability Appraisal ( SA)

d) Consultation Analysis and Consultation Report

e) Socio-economic baseline

f) Business & Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA)

g) Equalities Impact Assessment ( EQIA)

h) Consultation Analysis and Modifications Report

i) Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) Record

j) Post Adoption SEA Statement

k) Plan Summary

l) Lessons Learned

m) Miscellaneous

7.1 Preparing a marine spatial plan also requires a number of other documents to be produced. These generally need to be considered from the earliest planning stages as they can be complex documents that require extensive specialist input. In developing this marine Plan, most of these were undertaken by Scottish Government staff or were sub-contracted. If these are done by consultants for subsequent MPPs, it could add to the budget significantly (see Section 5). If done in-house, sufficient staff time and resources should be allocated.

7.2 The information below discusses the process of producing these documents; lessons learned from them are outline below but further details on their content can be found in Appendix 4. The information contained within them is another source of material from which can help inform future MPPs.

7a) Framework & Regional Locational Guidance ( RLG)

7.3 This combined Framework and RLG document was published in 2010 and finalised in 2011. It provided a framework that defined the 3-stage process to develop the Plan. It also provided, in the form of regional locational guidance, a snap-shot of the baseline data and maps of the ecological, geological and man-made features in the original pilot area (The Crown Estate strategic area of PFOW, which did not include a section of the north Sutherland coast). It also identified the main research and data collection priorities required to address knowledge gaps. As the draft Plan was developed, the RLG was updated again to reflect new data available. Now that NMPi has been developed (see paragraph 6.14) subsequent MPPs will be able to draw upon this comprehensive resource, especially when determining their baseline evidence and hosting online GIS data to support their regional marine plans.

7b) Stage 2 studies

7.4 The various Stage 2 studies were commissioned to fill the data gaps as outlined above; most ran in parallel with the preparation of the draft Plan (see Table 4). Many of the early studies commissioned were based on the original PFOW area discussed above. Once the draft Scottish Marine Region boundaries were known, the pilot Plan area was extended to cover the full extent of the north Sutherland coast and subsequent studies included the full coastline of the North Coast and Orkney Scottish Marine Regions (see Section 1, Map 1). Additional studies at plan or sub-plan level may be required to address data gaps and therefore there is a need to ensure appropriate time and resources are allocated to them.

Table 4: Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan Stage 2 Research Studies [15]



Report Status

ScotMap Inshore Fishing Study

A ScotMap pilot study mapped fishing activity and provided related economic data in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters based on an interview methodology. The ScotMap project was then rolled out throughout Scotland and the information in the pilot study updated.

Draft report published June 2012 and final results published June 2013.

Commercial shipping and recreational boating

A study of shipping activity to better inform the plan. The aim of this process is to ensure there is good knowledge of the use of these waters by all stakeholders so that future developments do not inadvertently impact on important existing activities.

Published Dec 2012.

Sea birds strategic monitoring

Surveying and monitoring sea bird populations in relation to Marine Protected Areas.

Information and data available from Marine Scotland.

Marine mammals strategic monitoring

Surveying and monitoring marine mammals in relation to Marine Protected Areas.

Information and data available from Marine Scotland.

Marine electric cable influence on migratory fish

A study to explore the response of diadromous fish to alternating current electromagnetic fields.

Report under peer review, due to be published 2016.

Survey, deploy and monitor strategy

Provides an efficient risk based approach for taking forward marine renewable energy (wave and tidal) developments.

Draft guidance published Sept 2011.

Hydrodynamic model of physical oceanographic environment and energy resources

The aim of this project is to produce a computationally stable, properly validated hydrodynamic model that provides an accurate 3-D model of the circulation and water characteristics on the Scottish Shelf, i.e. including shelf sea areas and sea lochs.

Work currently underway, will finish in May 2015.

Commercial fish valued added

Examination of the value added to commercial fish landing as a result of processing and branding.

Report published with supporting information in December 2014.

Tourism and recreation

Baseline and economic value study of current tourism and recreational activities and key sites.

PFOW case study completed. Scotland wide results to follow.


Review of future development opportunities.

Work on-going and will be published in 2016.

7c) Sustainability Appraisal

7.5 This process is a significant undertaking. The Scottish Government’s Environmental Assessment Team undertook a Sustainability Appraisal that considered the potential for social, economic and environmental effects for the draft Plan and the reasonable alternatives to it. The Sustainability Appraisal Report incorporated the requirements for an Environmental Report as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) process, alongside a socio-economic assessment and a draft Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) Record, set out in one report. The Sustainability Appraisal Report took forward the work of the draft SEA Environmental Report prepared for, and published alongside, the PIOP, and was informed by the preparation of other documents including the Socio-Economic Baseline Review (see Appendix 4 for full document list).

7.6 These documents helped to ensure that the social, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed Plan were identified and considered in the development of the Plan, including providing an indication of region-specific considerations that required specific analysis. Undertaking a HRA of the Plan, presented as a Draft HRA Record in the Sustainability Assessment Report, allowed for the Plan and its policies to be screened for the likelihood of significant environmental effects ( LSE) on designated habitats or qualifying species in accordance with the HRA regulations. Whether the findings of these assessments are presented separately or combined into a Sustainability Appraisal, it was noted that all should be considered at the start of the plan-making process.

7d) Consultation Analysis (2013) and Consultation Report (2014)

7.7 Following with consultation on the Planning Issues and Options Consultation Paper ( PIOP), the working group prepared both a Consultation Analysis Report [16] and a Consultation Report [17] . The Consultation Analysis Report summarises the findings of the formal written comments received in response to the PIOP Consultation Paper (see Section 6f) and the findings of the workshops and drop in sessions in Kirkwall and Thurso. The Consultation Report contained a table which listed all the comments received and any action requested by the consultees, a working group response to each individual comment and a list of 371 action points to take forward in the drafting of the marine spatial plan. The action points were monitored during and following the drafting of the marine spatial plan and an internal record was kept regarding implementation of the action points. The preparation of the reports combined standard consultation approaches used by Scottish Government and by Local Authorities.

7.8 For the sake of comparison it is useful to consider how and why local planning authorities respond to consultation on local development plans. The terrestrial Development Plans process has specific prescribed steps and requirements; subject to complying with those, there are different detailed practices amongst Planning Authorities. In comparison to the relatively novel marine spatial planning, the terrestrial development planning process might be described as a mature one. It is also set up with the intention to provide open consultation, give careful consideration to key issues and transparent, reasoned decision-making.

7.9 For example, the Orkney Islands Council Local Development Plan process, a Participation Statement and Consultation Report was produced following the consultation on the Proposed Plan. The report included a table which listed all the comments received and action requested by the consultees. It also included the response opinion of the local planning authority, any action taken by them and whether the action requested constitutes a notifiable modification to the Plan i.e. if the change was made, would the authority have to re-consult on the Plan? Generally, only very minor changes can be made to the Plan at this stage. If notifiable modifications are requested by the consultee at this stage, a determination on this unresolved representation needs to be made by the Reporter as part of the Examination. The Reporter then simply adds their conclusions and any recommendations as to how the plan should be modified. The authority then has to make these recommended changes to the Plan.

7.10 As outlined in paragraph 6.30, the legal steps for preparing marine plans are quite different; Schedule 1 of the Marine Act provides more flexibility than the Town and Country Planning Acts and Regulations in terms of settling the text of a Plan following consultation. However, valuable lessons can be drawn from the land planning process to make the consultation process clear and transparent.

7e) Socio-economic baseline

7.11 This report reviews marine sectors and provides a socio-economic baseline for each of them. It discusses economic value and employment, historic trends and further projections, along with data gaps and limitations. This is a very useful document as this baseline information can be used to monitor the effectiveness of delivering the MSP objectives by comparing how, for example, the economic value of a sector has changed or how employment figures have changed. It also informed the Socio-Economic Assessment and the findings set out in the SA Report.

7f) Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA)

7.12 The Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment helps policy makers to use available evidence to find proposals that best achieve the policy objectives while minimising costs and burdens. This exercise involved face-to-face consultation with eight businesses in the Plan area to establish a qualitative assessment of costs and benefits to business.

7g) Equality Impact Assessment ( EQIA)

7.13 This document provides a record of information on whether the creation of the Plan, or of any policy contained within, discriminates disproportionately between persons defined by age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or belief. It was determined that a light touch assessment could be taken with the Equalities Impact Assessment as evidence showed that the Plan has minimal relevance to equality.

7h) Consultation Analysis and Modifications Report ( CAM) 2016

7.14 Following the consultation of the draft Plan, a further consultation report was prepared [18] . This combined an analysis of the comments received, along with suggested modifications and the changes made by the working group in response to these suggestions. These modifications show how the Plan evolved, so the lessons learned from that process will not be repeated here. For comparison, the National Marine Plan process also produced a modifications report [19] , but used a different analysis approach. Either way, this ensures the plan making process is open and transparent; an important consideration to help ensure stakeholders know how their input has been considered. The preparation of this Report was developed to complement that of the SEA Post Adoption Statement, which was prepared to show how the Sustainability Appraisal and the comments received in the consultation process helped to inform the development of the Plan.

7i) Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) Record

7.15 The Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) Record documents the findings of the HRA process undertaken to determine whether the Pilot Plan is likely to have a significant effect on a European site, if implemented. Prepared in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) and using guidance provided by the Scottish Government and SNH, the HRA Record describes the methodology used in the appraisal process of the Pilot Plan. It includes the steps undertaken in considering the Pilot Plan and determining the likelihood of significant ( LSE) effects on European sites and discussion on the findings of the HRA process. It explains that this review of the general and sectoral policies set out in the Plan found that they would have no LSE on any European sites.

7j) SEA Post Adoption Statement

7.16 The preparation of a Post Adoption Statement concludes the Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) process undertaken on the draft pilot Plan. Prepared in accordance with the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, this Statement outlines the findings of the Sustainability Appraisal which included a SEA, socio-economic assessment and HRA. It explains how these findings and the views of respondents to the consultation on the Sustainability Appraisal have been taken into account in the development of the Plan. As noted in Section 7h, this Statement was designed to complement the development of the Consultation Analysis and Modifications Report.

7k) Plan Summary

7.17 The working group received feedback that the breath and volume of the pilot Plan and supporting documents was considered overwhelming by a number of stakeholders. To provide a concise summary of the Plan and the lessons learned, a summary document has been published [20] . This will be accompanied by an updated Topic Sheet, a simple two page update on the Plan [21] .

7l) Lessons Learned

7.18 Preparation of this Lessons Learned document was identified as an essential output of the project. It provides a record of issues arising and should ideally be started from the early stages of the project to help inform subsequent iterations of a marine plan and to aid Marine Planning Partnerships. This would help ensure key points from the early planning and development phases of the project are not lost and may save both time and resources at later stages. It is recommended that a ‘lessons learned’ log is set up at the start of the plan making process and updated as issues emerge; this was the intention for this project but staff resources limited input at the earlier stages.

7m) Miscellaneous

7.19 Additional outputs are also likely to be required and may have to be prepared at relatively short notice e.g. committee reports, press releases, stakeholder updates, briefing notes, blog updates and tweets, as was the case for this project.

General Discussion: Preparing supporting documents

7.20 The work required for these elements of the plan making process can easily be under-estimated. As shown by the extensive list of documents highlighted in Appendix 4, other than the final marine plan itself, significant time and expertise is required to ensure the evidence base, stakeholder engagement and legal requirements (e.g. Strategic Environment Assessment) are as comprehensive as possible. Significant data are now available on NMPi to provide baseline evidence. The project had considerable input from various Scottish Government staff, as discussed above, to ensure these were produced effectively. Section 9 discusses suggestions for potentially centralising the production of some of these documents to a single team that would undertake some of these elements for all of the MPPs. The intended status of the supporting documents and their relationship to the Plan needs to be made clear to stakeholders to ensure appropriate input and engagement.

Evidence/Supporting Documents

7.21 This Lessons Learned document, see Table 4 and Appendix 4 for list of project outputs, NMPi

Key points: Preparing supporting documents

  • Be clear from the outset what is required and who will lead on the various support documents required
  • Producing Regional Locational Guidance provides a useful starting point for providing baseline evidence
  • Additional studies at plan or sub-plan level may be required to address data gaps therefore need to ensure appropriate time and resources are allocated to them
  • Significant data are now available on NMPi to provide baseline evidence
  • The Sustainability Appraises is a significant undertaking, requiring detailed specialist knowledge
  • Be clear about the intended status of the supporting documents and their relationship to the Plan
  • Consultation and Modifications reports provide transparent evidence on the process and are useful aide de memoirs for the planning making staff.
  • Agree efficient processes for responding to consultation and documenting the outcomes
  • As the MPPs will be working on long-term statutory plans, the Lessons Learned process will help their plans evolve efficiently


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