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.

10 Future considerations

10.1 From the outset, the Marine Planning Partnerships should start the process by determining what exactly the partnership wants their regional marine plan to deliver. This should consider what is already delivered by the National Marine Plan i.e. how far the Regional Plans should stand alone rather than duplicate material in the National Marine Plan. These plans could therefore focus on identifying some key area-specific actions or objectives that could be delivered that are more than what is already required by other legislation, guidance or policy. Although each Marine Region is different, these plans will therefore be able to take advantage of the National Marine Plan. For example, the National Marine Plan policies could be listed, then interpreted to take account of the local situation.

10.2 As noted in Section 9, there were quite a number of comments asking for additional information to be added to the Plan. Whilst several of these requests were for issues beyond the realistic scope of the Plan, future plans could explore how guidance could be developed to:

  • Prepare a skills audit of the core group (e.g. working group) and the advisory board/group to identify any gaps then identify how these may be filled
  • Support developers on how best they could make effective use of the local supply chains and employment opportunities
  • Assess the effectiveness of well-being and engagement measures: these are generally ‘softer’ issues that are not easily captured but are valuable elements for local communities. These aspects are likely to evolve with the emerging Regional Marine Plan processes
  • Examine how RMPs and fisheries management will integrate in the future
  • Provide data on the ecological impacts of fishing
  • Use biological modelling in marine planning
  • Provide more information on impact pathways between sectors
  • Identifiy where land-based development is required to support recreational use of the marine environment, with better linkages to Local Development Plans
  • Develop a scoring system to assess the sustainability of recreational activities e.g. fuel use, emissions, litter generated

Lessons Learned for plan evolution

10.3 It is likely that most plans will have to go through a relatively similar process to the PFOW project to provide the initial, potentially lengthy, background information. In due course, the plans could then be slimmed down as wider generic guidance becomes available. The Marine Management Organisation’s head of marine planning provided helpful feedback from the 2015 International Marine Spatial Planning Symposium in Rhode Island, USA. The headline findings were [24] :

  • the process of marine planning is as important as the project
  • it is important to promote the benefits of marine planning through stories, early evidence, case studies and ‘champions’ (amongst stakeholders)
  • marine planning is partly an exercise of ‘invest to save’ but there is a challenge in the time lag between effort exerted and benefits realised
  • we should move from ‘planning to plan’ to ‘planning to implement’ : the Marine Management Organisation’s approach of building in implementation into plan preparation was recognised as an example of best practice
  • Marine spatial planning needs to be integrated into ‘mainstream’ coastal management, taking account of other plans and better ‘signposting’ to marine plans
  • the Marine Management Organisation approach to monitoring and evaluation was considered to be ahead of most other programmes represented

10.4 Some of the findings discussed in the paragraph above show that marine planning in England is a few steps beyond the current status of regional marine planning in Scotland, but are useful indicators of how it is likely to evolve. In comparison, regional planning in Scotland is still at a relatively early stage therefore expectations of what can realistically be delivered needs to be carefully managed as the process of marine spatial planning evolves.

Key points: Future considerations

  • From the earliest stage, determine what the partnership wants their plan to deliver, taking time to establish a joint vision and set of objectives
  • Identify which data gaps can realistically be addressed and associated resources
  • Expectations of what can realistically be delivered needs to be carefully managed as the process of marine spatial planning evolves


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