2.1 What is the draft Pilot Plan?
2.1.1 Marine Scotland, the Highland Council and the Orkney Islands Council have jointly published the Consultation Paper for the Draft Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters ( PFOW) Marine Spatial Plan (the draft Pilot Plan). The Consultation Paper for the draft Pilot Plan sets out an integrated planning policy framework to guide marine development, activities and management decisions in the PFOW area, whilst ensuring the quality of the marine environment is protected.
2.1.2 The marine environment is used for a wide variety of different purposes. The draft Pilot Plan aims to set out a coherent strategic vision, objectives and policies to further the achievement of sustainable development; including the protection and, where appropriate, enhancement of the marine environment within the Plan area. It aims to balance the competing demands of economic sectors and local communities for the use of the coastal and marine waters in the PFOW, whilst promoting sustainability, early engagement and protection of the coastal and marine environments on which these sectors and communities depend. As a non-statutory Plan, it is likely to complement and support existing ambitions and responsibilities rather than replace them.
2.1.3 The draft Pilot Plan builds upon the Planning Issues and Consultation Paper prepared and issued for consultation in May 2013. It takes forward the views of respondents from the consultation and from discussions with relevant stakeholders in its development, and is the first stage in the development of statutory Regional Marine Plans for the PFOW area.
2.1.4 Consultation on the draft Pilot Plan is now underway alongside its accompanying Sustainability Appraisal ( SA) comprising a Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) and Draft Habitats Regulation Appraisal ( HRA) Record, a Socio-economic Report and Regional Locational Guidance ( RLG) for the draft Pilot Plan.
2.2 What is a Sustainability Appraisal?
2.2.1 This report summarises the findings of the SA undertaken on the draft Pilot Plan. The SA has considered the potential for social, economic and environmental effects from the draft Pilot Plan and the reasonable alternatives to it. It has incorporated a SEA required under Directive 2001/42/ EC and the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act), a Socio-economic Assessment and work undertaken to meet obligations under the European Commission ( EC) Habitats Regulations.
2.2.2 Having been undertaken alongside the Plan development from an early stage in the process, this has enabled decision-making to be informed by relevant environmental and socio-economic information set out in the SA. The SA process has also provided an opportunity for the public to consider this information and use it to inform their views on the Plan itself, and its constituent policies, via the consultation process.
2.3 Structure of this report
2.3.1 This report is structured as follows:
- Section 1: Presents the Non-Technical Summary.
- Section 2: Contains background to the draft Pilot Plan and its development, including an introduction to the SA process.
- Section 3: Presents an overview of the Consultation Paper for the draft Pilot Plan, setting out key facts on the Plan, a summary of its general and sectoral policies, an outline of the development process, and the vision, principles, aims and objectives upon which it has been prepared.
- Section 4: Provides a broad summary of the SA and the underlying SEA, HRA and Socio-economic Assessment.
- Section 5: Sets out the environmental context of the draft Pilot Plan, providing an overview of the relationship with other plans, programmes and strategies ( PPS), and discussion on relevant environmental objectives.
- Section 6: Discusses the assessment methodology, an overview of alternatives to the draft Pilot Plan, and a summary of the environmental and socio-economic objectives for the Pilot Plan. This section also details the development of the key SA questions used to undertake the assessment.
- Section 7: Sets out the rationale behind the scoping of topic areas into the SA, and presents Baseline Information collated for the assessment.
- Section 8: Details the findings of the assessment of the general and sectoral policies set out in the draft Pilot Plan.
- Section 9: Details the overall findings of the assessment, including the overall effects of the draft Pilot Plan and its reasonable alternatives through answering a set of key SA questions for each topic area scoped into the assessment.
- Section 10: Summarises the findings of the assessment, and discusses the potential for cumulative and in-combination effects arising from the draft Pilot Plan and wider policy, future challenges, and recommendations for mitigation and monitoring.
- Section 11: Explains the next steps in the policy making process, including that of the SEA portion of the assessment process.
2.3.2 The following Appendices have been developed for the SA:
- Appendix A: Contains detailed tables presenting the analysis of the general policies outlined in the draft Pilot Plan.
- Appendix B: Contains detailed tables presenting the analysis of the sectoral policies outlined in the draft Pilot Plan.
- Appendix C: Contains detailed tables presenting the analysis of the reasonable alternatives to the draft Pilot Plan.
- Appendix D: Contains an overview of relevant data sources and an analysis of key environmental objectives considered relevant to the draft Pilot Plan.
- Appendix E: Contains a summary table detailed compliance of the SA with the requirements of the 2005 Act.
- Appendix F: Presents the Draft HRA Record prepared for the draft Pilot Plan.
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