Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan - Sustainability Appraisal

This report summarises the findings of the Sustainability Appraisal undertaken on the draft pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan incorporating a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) required under Directive 2001/42/EC and the Env

4 The Sustainability Appraisal ( SA)

4.1 Introduction

4.1.1 This Report presents the findings of the SA undertaken to consider the potential for social, economic and environmental effects from implementation of the draft Pilot Plan, whilst also exploring those of its reasonable alternatives. As detailed in the following sections, this Report addresses the requirement for a SEA, contains a Draft HRA Record that presents the initial findings of the HRA process undertaken on the draft Pilot Plan, and presents the findings of a Socio-economic Assessment.

4.2 Outline of the Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) Process

4.2.1 SEA describes the measures included within the 2005 Act. These measures set out the process of identifying the likely significant effects that a public plan, policy, programme or strategy will have on the environment, if implemented. The 2005 Act also sets out the material relating to the assessment that is required to be presented in an SEA Environmental Report. For the purposes of the Consultation Paper on the draft Pilot Plan, this SA has been prepared to address these requirements.

4.2.2 A combined Screening and Scoping Report was submitted to the SEA Gateway on 14 January 2013 [1] and this was forwarded to the statutory Consultation Authorities [2] for comment as required under the 2005 Act. In the Screening section of the Report, it was determined that the provisions proposed for inclusion in the draft Pilot Plan were likely to have the potential for significant environmental effects and, as such, fell under the scope of Section 5(3) of the 2005 Act.

4.2.3 The Scoping section of the Report built upon this finding and identified the potential for a range of environmental effects. It considered the relevant aspects of the environment to be considered in the SEA, whilst also establishing the framework for undertaking the SEA. Upon conclusion of the consultation on that report, the views of the Consultation Authorities were taken on board and both the SEA on the draft Pilot Plan were progressed.

4.2.4 An initial SEA Environmental Report [3] was published alongside the Planning Issues and Options Consultation Paper [4] , with both issued for public consultation in June 2013. The views expressed by respondents in this consultation were taken on board in the development of the draft Pilot Plan, and also in the SEA and in the preparation of this Report. The findings of the SEA are presented in this SA Report.

4.3 Outline of the Socio-economic Assessment Process

4.3.1 Socio-economic assessment describes the process of identifying the likely potential for significant effects that a PPS will have on the social and economic factors, if implemented. As for environmental considerations, social and economic considerations were a fundamental part of the Pilot Plan’s development from an early stage, demonstrated by the development of specific policies for inclusion in the draft Plan (e.g. sustainable development, support for sustainable social and economic benefits outlined in the policies, and for the wellbeing, quality of life and amenity of coastal communities).

4.3.2 The findings of the social and economic analyses have been incorporated into the SA process and are presented in this Report. In particular, the inclusion of social and economic issues have been considered in the development of the Communities, Population and Human Health and Material Assets topic areas scoped into the assessment.

4.3.3 The findings of the socio-economic assessment were informed by development of the socio-economic baseline for the PFOW area and discussions with stakeholders during the development of the draft Pilot Plan. The socio-economic baseline is presented as a stand-alone report published alongside the SA and the draft Pilot Plan, and is summarised in the baseline information detailed in this report (see Section 7).

4.4 Outline of the Habitats Regulation Appraisal ( HRA) Process

4.4.1 HRA describes the procedure for addressing the requirements of Article 6(3) of EC Council Directive 92/43/ EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna (the Habitats Directive). In the context of this Report, this process explored whether the Pilot Plan is likely to have a significant effect on a European site, if implemented. The HRA has been taken forward by the Scottish Government in co-operation with Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH), and in line with HRA Guidelines published by SNH in 2012 [5] .

4.4.2 The initial stage of the HRA involved screening the draft Pilot Plan to consider the need for a HRA. The intent was also, where possible, to identify the designated European/Ramsar sites and their interest features that could be affected by the Pilot Plan and its policies, and the pathways for adverse effects to inform future stages of the HRA process. In this first step, the possible impacts of the general and sectoral policies were considered and a Draft HRA Record developed based upon the screening process detailed in Appendix C of the SNH Guidelines.

4.5 Content of this Sustainability Appraisal ( SA)

4.5.1 This integrated SA Report presents the findings of the SEA, HRA and socio-economic assessments on the draft Pilot Plan and its policies, and outlines the potential for social, economic and environmental effects from its implementation. The integration of these separate components into one report enables the potential for cumulative impacts on the environment, communities and other marine users to be considered in a cohesive fashion, and for recommendations of a holistic nature to be drawn. It also allows for the consideration of cumulative effects of the collection of policies and the overall ambitions of the draft Pilot Plan. This was considered to be a particular advantage given the close interactions of environment and socio-economic aspects within the PFOW and the role that the marine environment plays in supporting its many communities.

4.5.2 This report amalgamates these assessment processes and provides a means of synthesising the results, whilst enabling the Plan to draw upon information from each component, where relevant, in its development.


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