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 B: New Policies in the pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan

Policy Title Policy Text
General Policy 1B: Supporting Sustainable Social and Economic Benefits Development and/or activities will be supported by this Plan when the proposal can demonstrate:
  • sustainable employment benefits
  • that opportunities to support local supply chains and create skilled employment in local communities have been maximised
  • that any adverse social, economic and operational effects on existing activities have been avoided, where avoidance is not possible, adverse effects have been appropriately mitigated
  • that opportunities to support synergistic benefits between development and activities have been maximised
Developers should undertake early engagement with the local authority, and any other relevant bodies, if there are likely to be significant impacts on local infrastructure or services.
General Policy 1C: Safeguarding the marine ecosystem The integrity of coastal and marine ecosystems should be safeguarded. The Plan will support proposed development and activities when they:
  • contribute towards the MSFD objectives to promote enhancement or improvement of the environmental status of the marine environment
  • demonstrate how any significant disturbance and degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems has been avoided or appropriately mitigated
General Policy 2: The Well-Being, Quality of Life and Amenity of Coastal Communities Development and/or activities will be supported by this Plan when it can be demonstrated that:

Significant adverse effects on the well-being, quality of life and amenity of local communities has been avoided, and where appropriate, mitigation measures to address any adverse effects have been incorporated as part of the development and activity proposals and agreed with the consenting authority.

Local stakeholders, relevant Community Councils and interested community groups have been engaged at an early stage in the development process when assessing any potential impacts on the well-being, quality of life and amenity of local communities.
General Policy 4C: Wider biodiversity The Plan will not support development and activities that result in a significant adverse effect on the status of Priority Marine Features.

Where development or activities are likely to have an adverse impact on species of regional or local importance to biodiversity, proposals should demonstrate:
  • the public benefits at a local level clearly outweigh the value of the habitat for biodiversity conservation.
  • the development or activity will be sited and designed to minimise adverse impacts on environmental quality, ecological status or viability.
  • any impact will be suitably mitigated.
General Policy 5A: Water environment The Plan will support development in the marine environment when the proposal:
  • Does not cause any water body to deteriorate in status nor prevent the achievement of established objectives set out in the River Basin Management Plan for the Scotland river basin district.
  • Contributes, where possible, towards objectives to improve the ecological status of coastal water bodies and the environmental status of marine waters.
  • Does not cause deterioration in the standard of waters designated under European Commission Directives such as Bathing Beaches, Shellfish Water Protected Areas or Shellfish Harvesting Waters.
  • Is accompanied by sufficient information to enable a full assessment of the likely effects, including cumulative effects, on the water environment.
  • Has taken into account existing activities in the proposed location for development and undertaken early consultation to ensure that activities that may not be compatible (e.g. development of an incompatible activity near an established legitimate activity, such as a licensed discharge) are not located together.
General Policy 7: Integrated coastal and marine development For developments that require multiple licences, permissions and/or consents, applicants should undertake early pre-application engagement with the consenting authorities and relevant stakeholders.

For developments that require an Environmental Impact Assessment and multiple licences, permissions and/or consents, applicants should produce a Consultation Strategy at the scoping stage.

Where appropriate, a single EIA should be carried out for marine and terrestrial components of a development project that are inextricably linked to the main works.

Proposals for construction projects should be supported by a construction environmental management plan which covers both the terrestrial and marine environment.

MS-LOT and other relevant consenting authority should consult one another at an early stage to improve the efficiency of the consenting process and, where appropriate, coordinate and streamline the various consenting requirements.
Policy GEN 9: Invasive Non-Native Species All developers and users of the marine environment should take into account the risk of introducing and spreading non-native species and put in place biosecurity and management measures to minimise this risk. These measures will be most effective when a co-ordinated and collaborative approach is taken by developers and users of the marine environment.

Existing Codes of Practice, species control agreements and orders (under the WANE Act) and international guidelines should be used to develop these measures where relevant to the marine environment.

Where non-native species are known to be present, mitigation measures (e.g. an eradication plan) or a contingency plan should be put in place to minimise the risk of spreading the species.
Sectoral Policy 1: Commercial Fisheries The Plan will support proposals for developments where it can be demonstrated that:
  • existing fishing opportunities and activities will be safeguarded wherever possible
  • an ecosystem based approach to the management of fishing which ensures the sustainability of fish stocks and avoids damage to fragile habitats has been implemented
  • protection for vulnerable commercial stocks (in particular for juvenile and spawning stocks through continuation of sea area closures, where appropriate)
  • other sectors take into account the need to protect fish stocks and sustain healthy fisheries for both economic and conservation reasons
  • consultation regarding the proposal has been undertaken with local fishers and representatives of local and national fisheries organisations and Inshore Fisheries Groups (or equivalent)
The following key factors should be taken into account when deciding on uses of the marine environment and the potential impact on fishing:
  • the cultural and economic importance of fishing, in particular to vulnerable coastal and island communities
  • the potential impact (positive and negative) of marine developments on the sustainability of fish and shellfish stocks and resultant fishing opportunities in the PFOW area
  • the environmental impact on fishing grounds (such as nursery, spawning areas), commercially-fished species, habitats and species more generally
  • the potential effect of displacement on: fish stocks, the wider environment; use of fuel; socio-economic costs to fishers and their communities and other marine users
  • port and harbour operators should seek to engage with fishing and other relevant stakeholders at an early stage to discuss any changes in infrastructure, including commercial policy, that may affect them
  • any port or harbour developments should take account of the needs of the dependent fishing fleet with a view to avoiding commercial and environmental harm where possible
  • Inshore Fisheries Groups, or the local equivalent, should work to agree joint fisheries management measures within inshore waters
  • where existing fishing opportunities or activity cannot be safeguarded, a Fisheries Management and Mitigation Strategy should be prepared as outlined in the National Marine Plan. All efforts should be made to agree the Strategy with local fisheries interests who should also undertake to provide transparent and accurate information and data to help complete the Strategy. The Strategy should be drawn up as part of the discharge of conditions of permissions granted
Sectoral Policy 4: Renewable energy All proposals for offshore wind and marine renewable energy development are subject to licensing and consenting processes.

The Plan will support proposals when:
  • Proposals for commercial scale developments are sited in the Plan Option areas identified through the Sectoral Marine Plan process. These are considered the preferred location for the sustainable development of offshore wind and marine renewables.
  • The potential for coexistence in, and multiple use of, Plan Option areas and Agreement for Lease areas by other marine users has been discussed with stakeholders and given due consideration.
  • Due regard has been paid to relevant factors in Regional Locational Guidance.
  • Connections to shore and National Grid connections have been considered against the appropriate policies in the relevant Local Development Plan(s).
  • Early and effective communication and consultation with all affected stakeholders has been established to avoid or minimise adverse impacts.
  • Any adverse impacts are satisfactorily mitigated.
Sectoral Policy 5: Recreation, sport, leisure and tourism The Plan will support the sustainable development of marine recreation, sport, leisure and tourism.

The Plan will support proposals for development of this sector where:
  • They do not adversely affect the natural environment which is the resource that recreation, sport, leisure and tourism rely on.
  • Codes of best practice and guidance such as those for biosecurity planning, non-native species and Marine Wildlife Watching are complied with.
The Plan will support proposals for the development of other sectors where:
  • During planning and construction they minimise or mitigate any disruption and/or disturbance to recreation, sport, leisure and tourism activities, including the natural environment as a resource that these activities rely upon.
  • The impact the development has on access, navigational routes and navigational safety in relation to recreation, sport, leisure and tourism activities has been minimised or mitigated.
  • Consultation and engagement with all relevant users of the marine environment has been undertaken to ensure the measures used to minimise or mitigate disruption or disturbance are appropriate.
  • Consideration has been given to the facility requirements of marine recreation, sport, leisure and tourism users and the potential for co-operation and sharing infrastructure and/or facilities taken into account.
Sectoral Policy 8: Electricity and Telecommunications Infrastructure Safeguarding existing pipelines, electricity and telecommunications cables

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 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 with 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 and 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 or cable armouring) 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.
Sectoral Policy 9: Marine Aggregates Proposals for new marine aggregate extraction sites should ensure they do not compromise existing activities.

Decision makers should ensure marine environmental issues are considered and appropriately safeguarded.

Any marine development should consider any impacts on existing or potential marine aggregate resources.


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