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

This report provides the evidence collected to inform a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment.

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 and/or activities will be supported by this Plan when it can be demonstrated that:
  • It will not have significant adverse direct or cumulative social, environmental or economic effects
  • It will maintain, and where possible enhance, existing built, natural and culture heritage resources
  • It will make efficient use of marine space, maximise opportunities for coexistence between marine users, and where appropriate, support the multiple use of marine space
  • It 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:
  • 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 coexistence between marine users
General Policy 3: Climate Change The Plan will support development proposals that demonstrate:
  • the mitigation measures taken to adapt to effects of climate change.
  • how they may impact upon climate change adaptation measures elsewhere.
  • how resilience had been built into the project over its lifetime.
All proposals for development 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 and activities where due regard is given to the importance of international, national and locally designated nature conservation sites:

Internationally designated sites

Development likely to have a significant effect on a site designated or proposed to be designated as a SPA, SAC (collectively known as Natura 2000 sites) or a Ramsar site, 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.

The development will only be permitted in circumstances where the assessment ascertains that:
  • it 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.
Nationally designated sites

Development that affects 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 the proposal will not significantly hinder the achievement of the conservation objectives of the NC MPA. Where there is no alternative that would have a lesser impact on the conservation objectives of the NC MPA and the public benefit outweighs the environmental impact, the applicant will arrange for measures of equivalent environmental benefit to offset the anticipated damage.

Development that affects a SSSI or 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.
General Policy 4B: Protected Species The Plan will not support development or activities that would likely 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 is required for preserving public health or public safety or
  • there are other imperative reasons of overriding public interest.
  • the development 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 a development 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 and activities will only be permitted where they comply with any licence granted by the appropriate authority required for the purpose of species protection.

Development 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 should demonstrate how the proposal takes into account visual impact and existing character and quality of landscape and seascape.

Development and activities that affect National Scenic Areas ( NSAs), Wild Land Areas ( WLAs), National Parks, World Heritage Sites 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.
Where a development could impact on qualities of coastal wildness, largely undeveloped coast, areas subject to significant constraints or largely unspoiled and isolated areas of coast, Scottish Planning Policy should be considered when planning for and decision making.
General Policy 4E: Geodiversity Development and activities may 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 activities, including any linked shore-base requirements, that demonstrate, potentially by way of a flood risk assessment, that:
  • they will not exacerbate present or future risks of flooding or erosion.
  • that sensitive uses, such as accommodation, will not be located in areas shown to be at risk of flooding.
  • 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 which has the 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 the social, economic or environmental benefits of the development. 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. For these sites the highest levels of mitigation will be required. This includes all sites where there is a substantial likelihood of the survival of human remains, and all sites protected under the following Acts: Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (as amended); Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended); Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (as amended); Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

For those sites which are designated, licences or consents are likely to be required from the relevant authority before the commencement of development. Receiving these consents may be a condition of marine licence approval. Proposals for development and use 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.

Whilst requirements of navigation and safety take precedence over the conservation of the historic environment, they do not remove the need for development proposals to comply with this policy so far as is reasonable.
General Policy 8A: Noise This Plan will support developments in the marine environment where:
  • Developers have avoided significant adverse effects
    • of man-made underwater noise and vibration on species sensitive to such effects,
    • of man-made noise, vibration and/or disturbance on the amenity of local communities and marine users
  • Applications for marine development that are likely to have significant noise impacts (on sensitive species and/or people) have submitted 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 should note that any development which has the potential to disturb an EPS (otters, cetaceans) will be required to apply for 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 Management and Marine Litter
  • All marine developments and activities should seek to minimise waste and discard all litter responsibly, recycling where possible.
  • Proposals for new development 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 may be supported in principle by the Plan where they are in compliance with:
  • Local Development Plans for Orkney Islands Council or Highland Council.
  • Aquaculture Supplementary Guidance for Orkney Islands Council or any subsequent aquaculture Supplementary Guidance for Highland Council.
Sectoral Policy 3: Oil and gas Exploration and production of oil and gas will be supported by this Plan, working with DECC and, when established, the new 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 will have in place 9 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 must take place in line with standard practice, and as allowed by international obligations.
Sectoral Policy 6: Marine Transport Development proposals should consider potential impacts on existing or planned shipping routes, navigational safety and access to ports and harbours.

Development proposals which would have an adverse impact on efficient and safe movement of shipping between ports, harbours and other anchorages should be refused.

Development should not proceed where key shipping routes would be unduly compromised.

Existing ferry routes should be safeguarded taking account of ferry movements in all weather conditions.
Sectoral Policy 7: Ports and Harbours The sustainable growth of the ports and harbours within the PFOW area, particularly within existing facilities, will be supported by the Plan were:
  • access to ports and harbours is not restricted.
  • safety considerations are primary.
  • navigational routes are not compromised.


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