Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. Strategic Environmental Assessment Post-Adoption Statement.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Post-Adoption Statement.

7 Monitoring Framework and Next Steps

7.1.1 Changes to the mix of coastal and marine use and the growth of the sectors operating in the PFOW area are likely to continue to change over time. As a consequence, the SA identified monitoring to be an important mechanism in assessing the potential impacts of sectoral growth in the area, as well as the influence of the Pilot Plan and the upcoming statutory Regional Marine Plans on the environment. This was also found to be an important part of informing future decision-making in the PFOW area.

7.1.2 A range of existing monitoring programmes for socio-economic, health and well-being factors has been established. This includes the many programmes used to provide information presented in the Socio-Economic Baseline Review and a number of overarching monitoring programmes ( e.g. Scottish Health and Wellbeing Monitoring, Economic and Employment Monitoring, Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) [16] ).

7.1.3 The potential for environmental impacts of development in each of the sectors discussed in this Statement could also be better understood, and this was identified as a priority. As noted in Section 2.3, Stage 2 of the Pilot Plan's development involved the identification of data gaps and the delivery of research studies to address these gaps. This work included studies on inshore fishing, commercial shipping and boating, monitoring of marine mammals and sea birds, and tourism and recreation value studies, amongst others. Further, existing monitoring programmes for sectors such as the offshore renewables sector ( e.g. the Scottish Offshore Renewables Research Framework ( SpORRAn)), the fisheries sector ( e.g. the work of the Fisheries Industry Science Alliance ( FISA) [17] ) and ongoing work in the aquaculture sector ( e.g. Locational Guidelines on the Authorisation of Marine Fish Farms in Scottish Waters and the research behind this) are likely to continue to address some of the gaps identified in the SA and by respondents to the consultations.

7.1.4 While much of the research is currently targeting the potential for environmental effects of offshore renewables, the potential for benefits in project or development-specific studies or monitoring information was also noted ( e.g. studies undertaken in preparing consent applications, compliance monitoring undertaken as a condition of consent, renewables test and demonstration monitoring). The availability of information from these sources, particularly given the number of test and demonstrator sites for offshore renewables and aquaculture developments within the PFOW area, has the potential to play an important role in informing future decision-making at the local and regional levels, and identifying environmental impacts. The role of targeted research through groups such as SpORRAn and the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme ( ORJIP)) are also likely to aid in filling data gaps associated with specific sectors ( e.g. offshore renewables) and biological features ( e.g. studies on marine fauna behaviours).

7.1.5 Other sources, such as national environmental monitoring programmes ( e.g. water quality monitoring undertaken by SEPA, climate change research conducted by SNH), local or regional programmes ( e.g. coastal classifications) and targeted monitoring of biodiversity features conducted by the Scottish Government, Marine Scotland Science, academic and environmental groups ( e.g. monitoring of seabird and seal populations, basking shark monitoring, Atlantic salmon migration research, collision impacts with onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal infrastructure) are also likely to contribute to filling data gaps. This data could also help to refine the potential for sectoral growth in line with sustainable objectives.

7.1.6 However, greater co-ordination of data gathering, monitoring and research would likely prove beneficial to the development of the upcoming Regional Marine Plans for the PFOW area ( e.g. General Policy 9: Invasive Non-native Species notes that such an approach would likely be the most efficient when setting up a biodiversity plan). Encouraging this approach at the regional level could enable the identification of relevant data and the use of it to effectively plan the use of space in the region.

7.1.7 In summary, the monitoring of sectoral growth and environmental and socio-economic parameters will continue to be undertaken on an ongoing basis, alongside the filling of data gaps through targeted research and studies. Together, the information obtained from this wide range of sources, complemented by targeted monitoring and research on specific sectoral and environmental effects, would likely help to further inform the development of the upcoming Regional Marine Plans, and potentially, to allow ongoing revision of the RLG. In a similar way, this data could also inform the requirements for further environmental assessment at the strategic or project levels.


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