Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan

This Plan is a pilot process undertaken by a working group consisting of Marine Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and Highland Council in advance of statutory regional marine planning.

Section 5: Sectoral Policies


318 A sectoral policy is one that is specifically relevant to the determination of an authorisation or enforcement decision for a particular type of development or activity. Having a suite of sectoral policies helps ensure the Plan is contributing to both high level government targets and helps meet our commitment to local sustainable development as outlined in the objectives.

319 The sectoral policy themes provide a consistent framework to ensure the Plan delivers sustainable development through the identification of policies that deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for each sector.

320 Proposed developments and activities must comply with legal requirements and should adhere to all of the general policies, be cognisant of all the other sectoral policies and consider the likely cumulative impacts. In all cases, marine safety is paramount. The associated text for each policy includes relevant supporting information that should be taken into account.

How they will be applied

321 All of the sectoral policies apply to development(s) and activities and:

  • Should be applied proportionately
  • Are not given in any order of priority: all have equal weight

See Section 2 How to use the Plan for more information on the planning and licensing process.

Policy format

322 To aid understanding of the Plan, all of the policies will be set out using the following format:

323 A summary of how each of the sectoral policies contributes to meeting the objectives of the Plan is included at the start of the section (Table 4).

324 An analysis of the likely socio-economic and environmental effects of each of the sectoral policies can be found in the Sustainability Appraisal [54] . The Sustainability Appraisal also explores the likelihood of cumulative effects associated with the collective group of general and sectoral policies, including consideration of the wider policy and regulatory context. These findings should be read in conjunction with this Marine Spatial Plan.

325 Background and context: in this section, a brief summary of the underlying reasons for the policy is set out.

326 Key legislation and policy guidance: the main legislative and policy drivers are provided; this is intentionally not an exhaustive list. It is acknowledged there are likely to be many supplementary and inter-linked policies and documents. Where legislation covers several policies, it will usually only be listed once in the most relevant policy to reduce repetition, therefore an element of cross-referencing will be required. A more comprehensive list is provided in Annex 2.

327 Current status: in this section, the baseline condition of the policy topic is outlined; where appropriate, further information may be found for most of these sectoral policies in the Sustainability Appraisal.

328 Pressures: the issues leading to significant pressures on the policy topic are outlined. In some cases, these pressures may be applicable to a number of the polices therefore an element of repetition is unavoidable.

329 Policy: this is the policy that will guide development and activities.

330 Justification: this outlines both the key legislative drivers and, where appropriate, the feedback from the consultation on the Planning Issues and Options Consultation paper that informed the drafting of the Plan.

331 Supporting spatial information: where data are readily available, links to the underlying spatial data are provided. In most cases, these data layers will be hosted on Marine Scotland's National Marine Plan interactive ( NMPi), therefore reference to it will not be repeated in each policy. NMPi is regularly updated so it should be consulted to ensure the most up-to-date information is used. This will ensure that the latest information is accessible as new research becomes available.

332 Future considerations: some of the likely significant issues that may be encountered during the life of the Plan and any subsequent regional marine plans are summarised.

333 Further information: this section will provide information on the key documents referenced in the policy and sources of additional information.

334 Information boxes: throughout the Plan, information boxes are provided. These include supporting information, clarification of terms or legislation or provide examples related to the policy.

Table 4: The contribution of each of the Sectoral Policies to the Plan objectives.

Table 4: The contribution of each of the Sectoral Policies to the Plan objectives.

Table 4: The contribution of each of the Sectoral Policies to the Plan objectives.

Table 4: The contribution of each of the Sectoral Policies to the Plan objectives.


Background and context

335 Fishing is a long-established industry within the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters and includes a range of different fisheries such as herring, mackerel, haddock, cod, whiting, saithe, monkfish and prawn. Additionally, the shellfish (lobster, brown and velvet crab, whelk and scallop) industry has an important role in this area. Fishing is an important and integral part of these communities and provides employment in areas where there may be few alternative opportunities. Fishing also contributes to supporting a self-sufficient community, particularly on the islands. Fishing in this region can often be carried out from small ports in remote, rural communities and can be an important link in maintaining the local community and associated services.

336 Fishing, by its very nature, is a dynamic industry and, when assessing any impact developments may have on this industry, the importance of safe access to all areas of the sea such as the seabed, water column and sea surface and navigational access to and from landfall areas that support vessels should be taken into account. Other considerations in relation to the impact that development may have are spawning and nursery areas, which may not necessarily be fished, but are important in maintaining fish stocks.

Key legislation and policy guidance

337 Within the UK finfish fisheries are managed through the EU Common Fisheries Policy ( CFP) which, in Article 2.3, shall implement an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management so as to ensure that negative impacts of fishing activities on the marine ecosystem are minimised, and shall endeavour to ensure that aquaculture and fisheries activities avoid the degradation of the marine environment. There are further requirements in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD). The MSFD aims to deliver Good Environmental Status ( GES) and for fisheries requires that "populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock".

338 There is an Inshore Fisheries Group ( IFG) for Moray and the North Coast and Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd is the Orkney Management Group, which is the equivalent of an IFG 1. Inshore Fisheries Groups are non-statutory bodies that aim to improve the management of Scotland's inshore fisheries out to 6 nautical miles, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments. The National Marine Plan notes that inshore fishing interests should be represented on Marine Planning Partnerships by Inshore Fisheries Groups (or equivalent) whose management plans will inform and reflect the regional plan.

339 There is legal recognition and general acceptance of a public right to fish. However, that right is not absolute; it is restricted by statute and regulated by Ministers on the public's behalf through licensing and other means.

340 When determining an application for a marine licence under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 the Scottish Ministers must have regard to, amongst other considerations, the need to prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea (Section 27(1)(a)(iii)).

341 Any objections raised regarding a development that is likely to have an impact on fishing will be given consideration when making a determination. Fishermen would have the opportunity to raise issues during the consultation process and any development that is likely to have an impact on fishing would require the developer to liaise with fishermen and take their concerns into account. If necessary, a liaison group, e.g. a Commercial Fisheries Working Group, would be set up to help resolve issues between the developers and fishermen.

342 For the renewables industry there is guidance in place to assist this process: the Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables ( FLOWW) Best Practice 2 Guidelines.

Current status

343 The Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics are published each year and provide information in relation to fishing and associated employment in Scotland. The most recent document relates to 2014 and was published in September 2015 3.

344 The following paragraphs summarise the findings of a Marine Scotland publication on Value Added in the Fish Supply Chain in Orkney and Northern Highlands 4, 5. Landings in Orkney are dominated by under 15m vessels landing crustaceans (predominantly crab) whereas in Scrabster the landings are dominated by demersal species from over 15m vessels as well as landings from larger crabbing vessels.

345 The fishing industry also supports employment onshore in terms of processing, transport and associated activities. This study outlines the value of landings in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region and the impacts on the processing sector and the economic benefits to this region.

346 Within Orkney, a fisherman's cooperative business model has been set up by the Orkney Fishermen's Society and this is closely linked to providing product marketed as coming from Orkney waters to a range of UK supermarkets as well as live shellfish export to the EU and beyond. This success means that there is a high value associated with the inshore fishery and it is important for the marketing and reputation of the product that it is provided by the inshore fishery fleet. The fishermen in Orkney are also supported by the Orkney Fisheries Association and both these organisations make representations on behalf of the local fishing industry.

347 In Caithness and Sutherland there is a different type of industry in that Scrabster is traditionally a landing port although there is some primary processing industry in the area. The industry relies on export to markets in Scandinavia and Asia. The area does not have local organisations representing the fishermen in the way that Orkney does but if they are a member of a national organisation their interests will be represented at that level.


348 Given the nature of the fishing industry, there is potential for interactions with a range of other sectors. Some of these may be positive but there is also potential for interactions that would require careful planning to avoid displacement or adverse socio-economic impacts on fishermen. Secondary interactions, such as impacts from non-native species, also need to be taken into account. There is also potential for pressures from fishing to have an environmental impact on the seabed and target and non-target species.

349 Marine developments have the potential to prevent or displace fishing activities and could damage fishing habitats, grounds, nursery or spawning areas and fish stocks. These impacts could be temporary or permanent depending on the type of development and the degree of disturbance.

350 Spatial information such as ScotMap and maps of spawning and nursery grounds can help determine where the important fishing grounds are. However, given that fishing may change over time, ongoing consultation will be essential to obtain up-to-date information. The effects of development in the long- and short-term should be considered as should the cumulative impact of developments in the area.

351 Consultation with local fishermen and the relevant organisations (including, but not limited to, Scottish Fishermen's Federation, Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, Scottish White Fish Producers Association, Orkney Fisheries Association and Orkney Fishermen's Society) will be needed for any proposed development likely to affect fishing activities.

352 Use of best practice guidance (e.g. Fisheries Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables ( FLOWW)) is recommended for any proposed development.

Information Box 20


ScotMap is a Marine Scotland project which provides spatial information on the fishing activity of Scottish registered commercial fishing vessels under 15m in overall length. The data were collected during face-to-face interviews with individual vessel owners and operators and relate to fishing activity for the period 2007 to 2011. Interviewees were asked to identify the areas in which they fish, and to provide associated information on their fishing vessel, species targeted, fishing gear used and income from fishing.

The dataset, as of July 2013, is based on interviews of 1,090 fishermen who collectively identified 2,634 fishing polygons, the majority of which relate to creel (pot) fishing. The data collected were aggregated and analysed to provide raster data and mapped outputs of the monetary value, relative importance (relative value) and the usage (number of fishing vessels and number of crew) of seas around Scotland.

Not all fishermen initially targeted for the ScotMap project were interviewed (72% vessel coverage overall) and not all those interviewed provided earnings information (10% decline rate overall with regard to earnings disclosure).

Individuals defined their fishing areas with variable levels of precision. Users of these data should be aware of this, particularly of the coverage provided by the ScotMap data which varies regionally.

Sectoral Policy 1: Commercial fisheries

Taking account of the relevant EU policies and Directives marine planners and decision makers should aim to ensure:

  • 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
  • consideration has been given to 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
  • that appropriate consultation regarding proposed development(s) and/or activities have 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 development(s) and/or activities on the sustainability of fish and shellfish stocks and resultant fishing opportunities in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters 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 development(s) and/or activities 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


353 Fishing and the associated socio-economic benefits it brings to the local economy is important to the region. Development in the marine environment can have a number of impacts on the industry such as restricting access, damaging important habitats and displacing fishing effort to other areas. This policy seeks to safeguard the commercial fisheries industry and its associated benefits.

Supporting spatial information

Map 13: Monetary value of commercial fishing by boats under 15m in length in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area between 2009 and 2011. Data comes from Marine Scotland's ScotMap project and was collected by interview.

Map 13: Monetary value of commercial fishing by boats under 15m in length in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area between 2009 and 2011. Data comes from Marine Scotland’s ScotMap project and was collected by interview.

Map 14: Number of vessels under 15m in length involved in commercial fishing between 2009 and 2011 in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. Data comes from Marine Scotland's ScotMap project and was collected by interview.

Map 14: Number of vessels under 15m in length involved in commercial fishing between 2009 and 2011 in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. Data comes from Marine Scotland’s ScotMap project and was collected by interview.

Future considerations

354 The future development of Marine Planning Partnerships, working with the Moray Firth and North Coast Inshore Fisheries Group, the Orkney Management Group and local organisations (such as the Orkney Fishermen's Society and Orkney Fisheries Association) and the local authorities could inform a regional model of marine management.

Further information

Inshore Fisheries Groups

1 http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Sea-Fisheries/InshoreFisheries/IFGs

2 Fisheries Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables ( FLOWW) Good Practice Guidelines

3 Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics
http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Agriculture-Fisheries/ PubFisheries

4 Pentland Firth Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan: Value Added in the Fish Supply Chain in Orkney and Northern Highlands

5 The Importance for the Fish Processing and Merchanting Sector of Landings of Fish from the Waters of Pentland Firth and Orkney to the Local and Scottish Economies


Kingfisher Information Service - Offshore Renewables and Cables Awareness

KIMO International


Background and context

355 Aquaculture in Scotland helps provide food for the domestic market, export income and a range of employment opportunities, especially in the Highlands and Islands. In the PFOW area, the industry provides considerable benefit for fragile economic areas, including supply chains, processing and research.

356 The Scottish Government supports the industry 2020 targets to grow the sector sustainably. To support these targets, a variety of research is underway by Marine Scotland, academia and various other research agencies.

Key legislation and policy guidance

357 Aquaculture for the purposes of this policy covers 'fish farming' which is legally defined in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 1 (as amended) as "the breeding, rearing or keeping of fish or shellfish" (which includes any kind of crustacean or mollusc). This was amended by the Town and Country Planning (Marine Fish Farming) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 2 to include any kind of sea urchin. At the time of writing, seaweed cultivation is not covered by this Act.

358 Unlike most other marine development, marine fish farming out to 12 nautical miles requires planning permission under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, not Marine Scotland as is the case for most marine activities. National guidance is provided in Scottish Planning Policy, with additional policy provided in the National Marine Plan. At the local level, the two local authorities, Orkney Islands Council and the Highland Council determine fish farming planning applications. Their respective Local Development Plans set out the key policies and criteria against which planning applications will be assessed. At present, seaweed cultivation farms require a licence from Marine Scotland. However, decisions must also accord with policies of the National Marine Plan and subsequent statutory regional marine plans for an area.

Information Box 21

Seaweed cultivation and harvesting

In 2013, the Scottish Government consulted on a policy statement regarding seaweed cultivation, the consultation analysis was published in 2014. Scottish Ministers are currently considering whether a formal consenting mechanism should be put in place to ensure that harvesting of wild seaweed and seagrass in Scotland is sustainable. A Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) is currently being undertaken and will be used to support these considerations. A policy statement on seaweed cultivation will await the outcome of the SEA of wild seaweed harvesting, given the clear interaction which exists.

359 In addition, Orkney Islands Council has detailed Planning Policy Advice 3 to aid sustainable development of the sector and Highland Council is developing similar guidance. The policies in this document do not intend to add any further policy burden but to aid sustainable development by providing information on the wide variety of factors to be considered when developing this sector, including development of shore-based facilities such as processing plants.

360 In addition to planning permission, most marine fish farming requires a seabed lease from the Crown Estate. Fish farming developments may also require a marine licence or authorisation from various Marine Scotland departments for some activities. For example, a marine licence from MS- LOT is required to safeguard navigation, including access to anchorages. Marine Scotland Science implements measures that regulate the movement of live fish with a view to preventing the spread of fish diseases. It issues a marine licence covering navigation issues and deposits in the marine environment, including discharges from well boats when used for treating fish. When a commercial activity could cause disturbance to a European Protected Species, Marine Scotland may issue a licence for the activity. In addition, it is the licensing authority for seals under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 4, and it can issue licences and guidance for the killing of seals to protect the welfare of farmed fish. Another section of Marine Scotland, the Fish Health Inspectorate, issues consents for an Aquaculture Production Business Authorisation under the Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009 5.

361 Under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 6, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) regulates activities which may pose a risk to the water environment. For finfish farming, SEPA sets limits on the types and amount of fish (maximum allowable biomass) that can be held in a cage configuration and the amount of medicines (chemotheraputants) that can be discharged into the environment from the fish cages. Known as a CAR licence, sites are assessed on the likely effects of discharges on an individual and cumulative basis, from a development on both the water column and the benthic environment. CAR licences are not required for shellfish farms. A parallel licensing regime exists under the Marine Act where chemotherapeutants are released from well boats following sea lice treatment.

Current status

362 Orkney and North Highland has a mix of both finfish and shellfish farming, mainly involving salmon, mussels and oysters. In Sutherland, there are several shellfish farms and two finfish farms in Loch Eriboll and a large oyster farm in the Kyle of Tongue but there are no active shellfish sites along the north coast of Caithness. Orkney has numerous finfish sites, mainly situated on the more sheltered eastern and southern coasts of the mainland, Hoy and Westray.

363 Current Scottish Planning Policy (2014) 7 and the National Marine Plan have a presumption against further marine finfish farm developments on the north (and east) coasts to safeguard migratory fish species.


364 Some key industry-specific pressures are the ability to attract suitably skilled staff, a perceived lack of space for new sites, suitably robust equipment that can deal with the challenging marine environment and in the case of shellfish, water quality. Work under way by Marine Scotland for the Spatial Planning for Aquaculture project will map areas of constraint and opportunity.

365 The impacts of sealice and its treatments on farmed salmon, wild salmonids and the wider environment are a substantial challenge, with methods of improving sea lice control an urgent priority for research. Fish farm escapes can also pose a threat to wild salmonids, which has lead to the development of technical standards for finfish aquaculture 8. Aquaculture also has the potential to interact with inshore fisheries and recreation and tourism interests.

Sectoral Policy 2: Aquaculture

Aquaculture developments will be supported by the Plan where they are in compliance with:

  • Local Development Plans for Orkney Islands Council or Highland Council and any related planning guidance as appropriate
  • any Marine Scotland or Scottish Environment Protection Agency licensing requirements and guidance

The Plan will support the sustainable growth of seaweed cultivation where it complies with any licensing or subsequent planning requirements.


366 This policy highlights the main considerations to be taken into account for this industry, which represents a significant element of the marine activity in the PFOW.

Supporting spatial information

Map 15: Active finfish and shellfish aquaculture sites and shellfish water designations in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Plan area. 'Active' in accordance with the Marine Scotland Fish Health Inspectorate definition relates to the status of a site that is stocked or fallow with the intention of restocking in the foreseeable future.

Map 15: Active finfish and shellfish aquaculture sites and shellfish water designations in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Plan area. ‘Active’ in accordance with the Marine Scotland Fish Health Inspectorate definition relates to the status of a site that is stocked or fallow with the intention of restocking in the foreseeable future.

Future considerations

367 Subsequent regional marine plans will provide continued guidance and support for this sector where appropriate.

368 If there is a desire from the sector to move sites further offshore, further guidance may be needed on the impacts of new technologies and practices. Similar issues are also seen in other EU member states, with a view to promoting the development of fish farming further offshore. If in due course, developers wish to consider aquaculture sites beyond three nautical miles or as progress is made on multi-trophic aquaculture, whereby more than one species is farmed at a single site, further policy guidance or legislation may be required.

Further information

1 Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended)

2 Town and Country Planning (Marine Fish Farming) (Scotland) Regulations 2013

3 Orkney Aquaculture Planning Policy Advice

4 Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

5 Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009

6 Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

7 Scottish Planning Policy 2014

8 Marine Scotland: A Technical Standard for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture

Planning Circular 1/2007: Planning Controls for Marine Fish Farming (In the process of being replaced)

Scotland's Marine Atlas

Scotland's Aquaculture

A Fresh Start - The Renewed Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture

An Assessment of the Benefits to Scotland of Aquaculture
http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Publications/publicationslatest/farmedfish/ AqBenefits

Seaweed Consultation Report

Marine Scotland - Running a Fish Farm

The Siting And Design Of Aquaculture In The Landscape: Visual And Landscape Considerations (2011)

The Crown Estate: Aquaculture Guidance

Scottish Environment Protection Agency: Aquaculture Guidance


Background and context

369 Within Orkney, the oil and gas industry has played an important role since the 1970s in providing employment and supporting the wider local economy. Crude oil is imported to the Flotta Oil Terminal through a 30-inch subsea pipeline from several offshore installations in the Flotta Catchment Area ( FCA). The terminal operators, Talisman Sinopec Energy, signed an agreement in 2012 to provide transportation and processing services to the Golden Eagle Development, which is located 70km north east of Aberdeen and the second largest oil discovery in the UK North Sea. It is expected this will ensure the operation of the terminal for many years and means there will be ongoing activities in the oil and gas industry within the Plan area.

370 Scapa Flow is also one of the principal locations in Europe for Ship-to-Ship ( STS) operations of the transfer of crude and fuel oils. Scapa Flow offers a large, sheltered, deep-water designated anchorage for these operations. There have been over 180 STS transfers conducted in Scapa Flow since 1980.

371 In Caithness, the oil and gas industry will be supported by an agreement to build an oil supply base in Scrabster and the ongoing use of the airport at Wick John O'Groats as a transport hub for oil workers and ship crews.

Key legislation and policy guidance

372 Offshore oil and gas activity is well established and is subject to strict environmental regulations and considerations and these can be found at www.gov.uk/topic/oil-and-gas.

373 The Department for Energy and Climate Change ( DECC) within the UK Government is responsible for regulating the licensing, exploration, exploitation (production) and decommissioning relating to the oil and gas industry. However, the regulatory functions other than those relating to safety and the environment have been transferred to a new Oil and Gas Authority.

374 DECC acts under powers Parliament has given to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the Petroleum Act 1998 to regulate offshore oil and gas operations. DECC has also developed a comprehensive environmental legislative regime to underpin its regulatory activities.

375 Within the Plan area (out to 12 nautical miles) DECC is responsible for environmental impact assessment and habitat and species issues in relation to the Petroleum Act functions. However, DECC's environmental regulations relating to emissions and discharges do not apply in internal or controlled (0-3 nautical miles) waters and competence in relation to pollution matters in these areas rests with the Scottish Government.

Current status

376 The Scottish Government has its own oil and gas industry strategy 1, which reinforces the long-term future of the industry in Scotland and the priorities for industry, government and others to realise these opportunities. The Scottish Government has also pledged 2 to work with this sector to maintain competitiveness, facilitate the transfer of skills and knowledge to other sectors and to utilise Scottish-based skills in world markets. This will support Scotland's economic recovery.

377 There is likely to be ongoing activity in the offshore oil and gas sector for many years and the impact it can have in terms of interactions with other users, the environment, climate change and decommissioning, all need to be managed and taken into account.

378 No shale gas deposits or development pressures have been identified within the Plan area during the plan making process.


379 Scotland will need a mixed energy portfolio, including hydrocarbons, to provide secure and affordable heat and electricity for decades to come. As use of renewable energy sources is increased, there is also a duty to minimise carbon emissions in line with climate change targets. The approach is one of careful stewardship of finite resources.

380 The Scottish Government supports a low carbon economy which involves the move away from fossil fuels based energy consumption towards investment in renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. However, oil and gas are set to remain a vital source of energy while we move towards a future based upon renewable energy and it is sensible to secure reserves domestically as far as possible for as long as they may be needed.

381 There is potential for both positive and negative interactions between oil and gas exploration and extraction and other marine users. The main interactions in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, if there was further oil and gas related activity in this area, are likely to be with the offshore wind, marine renewables (wave and tidal stream) and fishing industries.

382 Marine renewables technology is still developing and knowledge is being gained regarding how spatially compatible this industry is likely to be with the oil and gas industry. However, the transfer of marine operations skills from the oil and gas industry has the potential to reduce costs of developing renewable projects.

383 The requirement for 500-metre exclusion zones around oil and gas infrastructure could interfere with fishing operations through displacement. Pipelines, unless buried, can also have an impact by causing an obstruction to fishing. Post lay trawls can be carried out to ensure the areas where pipelines have been laid are snag- and debris-free.

384 In some cases however, the fishing industry could benefit financially when employed by the oil and gas sector during installation, e.g. acting as guard vessels or as a fisheries liaison for geological surveys.

385 Oil and gas production can result in a range of environmental pressures, the main ones being oil spill, noise from exploration (e.g. seismic survey) and production and chemical or oil contamination of seawater, sediments and fauna. The operational pressures are mitigated through regulation but unplanned events, e.g. an oil spill, could result in damage to the environment.

386 Construction, protection and decommissioning of infrastructure can result in the local loss of species and habitat but can be mitigated to ensure the effect is limited to a small footprint. Infrastructure can also provide substrate for colonisation and shelter for fish.

Sectoral Policy 3: Oil and gas

Exploration and production of oil and gas will be supported by this Plan, working with DECC, the 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 have in place nine 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 takes place in line with standard practice, and as allowed by international obligations


387 The oil and gas industry has been a part of this area for many years and has made, and will continue to make, a significant contribution to the economy of the area. There are risks and potential impacts associated with this industry which will continue to be controlled by strict environmental regulations and considerations. In some cases there is also potential for the oil and gas industry and other marine users to work together to mitigate negative impacts.

Supporting spatial information

Map 16: Oil and gas infrastructure and activity in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area.

Map 16: Oil and gas infrastructure and activity in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area.

Future considerations

388 DECC operates a competitive system of licence awards. Most licences are issued in licensing rounds, where applicants compete for exclusive licences over particular geographical areas. When DECC issues a production licence to a company (or group of companies), it is giving that licensee exclusive rights to explore for, drill for, and produce native oil and gas within a specified area. Licensees must be assured of this exclusive right before they make the necessary investments to develop oil and gas fields. Exclusivity also prevents competing companies trying to exploit the same resource.

389 In the area around the PFOW there is potential for some future development as during the DECC 28th Leasing Round 3 there were some 'Promote Licences with Drill or Drop requirement' issued in Blocks near this area. This would require operators to review available data and develop a work programme within two years of the licence being issued. If this is not done then the licence may be dropped, or extended to undertake work commitments for the Block proposed by the operator.

390 The Oil and Gas Authority was established with the regulatory function split from DECC environmental functions. The EU Directive 2013//30/ EU 4 on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations will also be implemented by the Health and Safety Executive and DECC as joint competent authority.

Further information

1 Scotland's Oil and Gas Strategy 2012-2020

2 Scottish Government Supporting Economic Recovery - 10 Energy Pledges

3 Department of Energy and Climate Change - 28th Licensing Round

4 EU Directive 2013//30/ EU - Offshore Directive
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:178:0066:0106:EN :PDF

Department of Energy and Climate Change - Information on Oil and Gas Regulation and Licensing

Scottish Natural Heritage - Oil and Gas

A Fishing Industry Guide to Offshore Operators

Safety Zones

Civil Aviation Authority Policy and Guidance on Wind Turbines

Health and Safety Executive - Offshore Directive


Background and context

391 Scotland has set a target of generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020 and to deliver an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The PFOW area is very well placed to contribute to achieving these targets by utilising offshore wind and marine renewables (wave and tidal stream) resource.

392 The PFOW area has some of the best sources of marine renewable energy generation (also referred to as marine renewables or marine energy) in the UK 1 and the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre ( EMEC) 2 provides a globally unique facility for testing marine energy devices. The area currently has a total of 12 Crown Estate Agreements for Lease areas, seven held by developers and five held by EMEC for sea trials and testing. One commercial project (Meygen Phase 1) was licensed and consented in January 2014.

393 Sustainable growth of marine renewable energy and the potential for co-existence with other marine users is a key objective of the Plan. This could mean using renewables in combination with other sectors or sharing space, where health and safety requirements permit, with other marine users. For example, the Plan Options identified in the Sectoral Marine Plans 3 have the potential for some of the area to be developed by the marine renewable sector and any part of the area that is not taken up by this industry has the potential to be utilised by other marine users.

Key legislation and policy guidance

394 Two reports published by the Scottish Government, the Marine Energy Group's Roadmap 2009 4 and the Offshore Wind Energy Group's Offshore Wind Route Map 2013 5 outlined the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of the offshore and marine renewable energy industry.

395 The UK Marine Policy Statement 6 notes that contributing to securing the UK's energy objectives, while protecting the environment, will be a priority of marine planning and outlines a number of issues to be taken into consideration by marine planners when developing marine plans.

396 Scotland's policy on how energy targets will be met is described in the Electricity Generation Policy Statement 2013 7 and highlights ways in which offshore renewable energy can contribute to the Scottish targets.

397 National Planning Framework 3 8 notes that terrestrial and marine planning have a key role to play in reaching Scotland's ambitious energy targets by facilitating development, linking generation with consumers and guiding new infrastructure to appropriate locations.

398 Planning for offshore renewable energy in Scotland has resulted in Sectoral Marine Plans to steer the location of commercial scale (i.e. 30MW for wave and tidal and 100MW for offshore wind) offshore renewable energy developments. Within the PFOW area there are seven Plan Options, one for wind, two for wave and four for tidal.

Information Box 22

European Marine Energy Centre ( EMEC)

EMEC was established in 2003 and provides a unique open-sea testing facility for wave and tidal technologies.

Orkney is an ideal base for such a centre as it combines robust testing conditions in a harsh marine environment with proximity to sheltered waters and harbours.

EMEC has 14 full-scale test berths and also offers two scale text sites where smaller scale devices, or those at an earlier stage in their development, can be tested in less challenging conditions.

399 The Plan Option areas represent the strategic development zones in which commercial scale projects should be sited although it is not expected that the whole of each Plan Option area will be fully developed. Plan Options are considered the preferred strategic locations for the sustainable development of offshore wind and marine renewables. Developers can propose using areas outwith these Plan Options but this may present a higher risk in consenting terms.

400 The geographical scope is 0-200 nautical miles for the Sectoral Marine Plans and their associated Regional Locational Guidance 9 whereas this Marine Spatial Plan and its Regional Locational Guidance 10 covers 0-12 nautical miles.

Current status

401 The PFOW area has been recognised as a place where there are unparalleled opportunities for marine renewable energy development. The European Marine Energy Centre is the only one of its kind in the world and the PFOW was designated as a Marine Energy Park in July 2012 11. The Marine Energy Park is designed to accelerate the commercialisation of wave and tidal stream technologies and to promote the region on a worldwide scale to secure economic and social benefits.

402 The PFOW area has seven Crown Estate Agreements for Lease that can be used for marine renewable energy development, these will be considered as "planned development at the licensing stage" for the Plan. A further five areas are leased to EMEC for sea trials, two of which are not planned to be grid connected. As noted above there are also seven Plan Options identified in this area by the Sectoral Marine Plans.

403 Both Agreement for Lease and Plan Options are large areas and renewable energy developers would be unlikely to utilise the total area so there are options for sharing and co-location with other industries as noted above.

404 Any proposals for offshore wind or marine renewable development will be subject to licensing and consenting processes. The Plan Options and other material considerations will be taken into account by decision-makers but each application is considered on a case-by-case basis.

405 Regional Locational Guidance specific to the PFOW area has been produced and this provides a decision support tool for developers, councils and government.

406 There are a wide variety of data being collected as part of EMEC's work and the ongoing requirement for monitoring and research as part of the licensing and consenting process for proposed development in the Agreement for Lease areas. These data are a valuable resource in helping assess the impact of marine renewable developments on a variety of receptors.


407 The knowledge regarding the pressures and impacts associated with offshore wind and marine renewables differ to some extent owing to the industries being at different stages of development. The pressures and impacts will also differ in terms of the technology type, size, structure and siting, of the device(s).

408 There is potential for impact on existing marine users and the marine environment, e.g. competition for space, navigational restrictions, fishing displacement, and impacts on sectors such as marine recreation and tourism and shipping and defence.

409 The impacts on the marine environment include, but are not limited to, visual impact, adverse impacts of noise on marine fish and mammals, collision risk to birds and marine mammals and effects on hydrodynamics and consequent sediment movement.

410 As marine renewables, i.e. wave and tidal stream, are at an early stage of development, it is acknowledged that there remain knowledge gaps regarding the impact of some of these pressures. There is ongoing research, particularly in the PFOW area, to provide the evidence required to better understand the impact that marine technologies may have on the marine environment.

411 There is a need for more research to assess the impact on existing marine users, e.g. fishing displacement, shipping, tourism and recreation. As the industry develops there will be a need to undertake monitoring at all stages of the development to obtain the evidence needed to inform decision-making.

412 Although there are a variety of pressures and some of the impacts are not well understood, many of these can be avoided or minimised by ensuring that there is early communication between all sectors to identify the impacts and mitigation measures. Use, and ongoing improvement, of Regional Locational Guidance developed with stakeholders will assist with fine-scale siting for development in areas where there is least constraint.

413 There are several sets of guidance that have been issued including, but not limited to, the Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group ( FLOWW) Offshore Renewables and Fisheries Liaison Guidance 12, updates to existing government guidance for mariners and developers from the Nautical and Offshore Renewable Energy Liaison group ( NOREL) 13 and Historic Environment Scotland 14 guidance for wave and tidal energy, which has been issued to ensure that such development is sustainable with respect to the historic environment. Other guidance includes the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Marine Guidance Notes ( MGN 15 371 and 372, or subsequent updates) in relation to offshore renewable energy installations and the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities recommendations on the Marking of Man-Made Offshore Structures 16.

414 To assist in tackling complex issues and/or to resolve areas of dispute anytime in the application process prior to determination, MS- LOT may decide to bring together a Marine Renewables Facilitators Group ( MRFG) 17. This is a group of experts who liaise with MS- LOT to provide advice in relation to proposed marine renewable developments. The members of the group provide feedback at various stages of the process as and when required.

Sectoral Policy 4: Renewable energy generation

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 co-existence 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


415 The PFOW area has some of the best marine renewable energy resources in the UK and could help support Scotland's ambitious energy targets. This potential has been recognised by the Agreement for Lease areas and the seven Plan Options located in this area. The industry is at an early stage of development but an increase in growth of this sector may result in a big change in the use of the marine environment in this area.This potential growth may impact on other marine users and marine planning such as the Sectoral Marine Plans and this Marine Spatial Plan aims to guide development to areas of least constraint. Early consultation with other marine users and the consideration of shared use will help mitigate adverse impacts.

Supporting spatial information

Map 17: Leased Crown Estate sites for marine renewable activities and draft Plan Options for renewable developments as suggested in Marine Scotland's Sectoral Marine Plan.

Map 17: Leased Crown Estate sites for marine renewable activities and draft Plan Options for renewable developments as suggested in Marine Scotland’s Sectoral Marine Plan.

Future considerations

416 This is a growing industry that is in the early stages of development so understanding of, and data regarding, what the effects and pressures of this industry will be on other marine users has some gaps. As data continues to be collected there will be a better understanding of these effects and pressures.

417 Floating offshore wind is a technology that is currently developing and Marine Scotland has created Regional Locational Guidance that identifies possible areas where test sites for deep water floating technology could be located. One of these areas is off Westray and as this is an area of potential development that would need to be taken into consideration in the future as the technology develops.

418 There is a need for ongoing monitoring and research with regard to the impact of this industry. The results of this will provide the data required to assess any impact and inform how future development will take place.

419 Once the Plan Options within the Sectoral Marine Plans have been finalised, there will need to be consideration and assessment of impacts that development of these areas may have on any relevant Marine Protected Areas, Special Protection Areas or other designated sites.

420 Ongoing improvements to the Regional Locational Guidance will also help inform siting of developments in areas where there is the least constraint. Ongoing development of more detailed mapping methods to identify opportunities and constraints will help the statutory marine planning process refine e.g. the Plan Option areas.

Further information

1 Crown Estate Report on UK Wave and Tidal Key Resource Areas

2 EMEC website

3 Sectoral Marine Plans

4 Marine Energy Road Map

5 Scotland's Offshore Wind Route Map

6 UK Marine Policy Statement

7 Electricity Generation Policy Statement 2013

8 National Planning Framework 3

9 Sectoral Marine Plans - Regional Locational Guidance
http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/marineenergy/Planning and short url link added to the below as a place holder until published online

10 Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan -
Regional Locational Guidance

11 Marine Energy Park website

12 Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables ( FLOWW) Offshore Renewables and Fisheries Liaison Guidance

13 The Nautical and Offshore Renewable Energy Liaison NOREL

14 Historic Scotland Guidance

15 Maritime and Coastguard Agency Marine Guidance Notes
MGN 371 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-371-offshore-renewable-energy-installations-oreis

MGN 372 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-372-guidance-to-mariners-operating-in-vicinity-of-uk-oreis

16 Marking of Man-Made Offshore Structures

17 Marine Renewables Facilitators Group


Background and context

421 The marine and coastal area in the PFOW area supports a wide range of activities associated with recreation, sport, leisure and tourism that make a significant contribution to the local economy and quality of life. The area is renowned for a wide variety of activities that can take place in or around the marine environment, e.g. surfing at Thurso, diving the Scapa Flow wrecks and the growing cruise ship trade.

422 For the purposes of this policy the term 'recreation, sport, leisure and tourism' encompasses activities that make use of the marine environment in some way. They include, for example, recreational boating, competitive sport, paddlesports, surfing, diving, fishing, swimming, walking coastal paths, birdwatching, painting, eating seafood and attending marine-themed festivals and events.

423 It is acknowledged that the qualities considered important from a tourism perspective and those important from a sport and recreation perspective may differ. However, in some cases it is not possible to differentiate, e.g. someone visiting Orkney (as a tourist) to dive the Scapa Flow wrecks (as a sport).

424 Many of the activities are based on the wildlife, the scenery or enjoying water-based or waterside activities either near, on, in or under the sea. These activities therefore rely on having a marine environment that is biodiverse, clean and safe. For the local economy and jobs to continue to be supported by this industry, the marine environment and the pressures on it need to be managed to allow these activities to continue sustainably.

Key legislation and policy guidance

425 The National Planning Framework 3 notes the importance of our coastal areas as an outstanding natural resource and that national and regional marine plans will provide policies to achieve sustainable development, protection and, where appropriate, enhancement of the marine area.

426 Scottish Planning Policy supports an integrated approach to coastal planning and the importance of the coastline as a resource both for development and for its particular environmental quality.

427 There is a national tourism strategy developed by the Scottish Tourism Alliance - Tourism Scotland 2020 1 - and both Visit Scotland's National Tourism Development Framework 2 and the Marine Tourism Strategy 3 are aligned with this strategy.

428 The Marine Tourism Strategy has been developed by a working group of industry leaders and user groups together with public agencies and enterprise bodies to focus on the sustainable growth of Scotland's marine leisure sector.

429 Within the PFOW area there is a Highland Tourism Partnership that has produced a Highland Tourism Action Plan that outlines the priorities for delivering the Tourism 2020 strategy in the Highland area. The North Highland Initiative is an organisation committed to working with its members, the wider tourism industry and key public sector stakeholders to grow the value of tourism in the North Highland region through destination development and targeted marketing, e.g. the North Coast 500 initiative. Orkney Islands Council work with Visit Scotland and the Orkney Tourism Group to promote and develop the tourism industry.

Information Box 23

Scapa Flow - Diving

Scapa Flow ranks as one of the world's top diving destinations. The wrecks of battleships, and the history behind them, make Scapa Flow a world-renowned location for diving. The marine life living in and around the wrecks adds to the attraction of diving in the area. Seventy-four German ships were sunk in 1919 to prevent them being divided up amongst the allies. Many were recovered for salvage but those remaining submerged have helped make Scapa Flow into one of the most popular dive sites in Europe.

Thurso - Surfing

The Scottish Surfing Federation note that the North Coast of Scotland has been instrumental to the development of the sport both within Scotland and the UK as a whole. Surfers first started visiting the North Coast of Scotland over 40 years ago and in 1973 the first Scottish Surfing Championships were held at Bettyhill near Thurso. Since then, there have been numerous surf competitions focused in the Thurso area at local, national and international level. There has also been a general increase in the number of surfers using the area for their sport.

Current status

430 The area has many local businesses and clubs that either make a living from supporting tourism in the marine environment or use it for recreation and leisure. These are well established and contribute to the local economy and the well-being of locals and visitors alike.

431 As well as being an important area for tourism, the marine and coastal area is enjoyed and valued for recreation, sport and leisure by local people.

432 There are some region specific data in relation to use of the marine environment for recreation, leisure and tourism, e.g. information and spatial data on recreational vessels in the Shipping Study 4 carried out by Marine Scotland and maps from sea kayaking and canoeing guides. Information on Sailing Tourism in Scotland 5 was collected by Scottish Enterprise in 2010 and represents the most comprehensive and up-to-date published information for this sector.

433 However, there are limited data on how many visitors to, or local people living in, Orkney, Caithness and Sutherland would use, or enjoy, the marine and coastal environment for recreation, sport, leisure and tourism. This is an acknowledged data gap for Scotland as a whole and is being addressed by a Marine Recreation and Tourism study funded by Marine Scotland, the Contract Research Fund, the Crown Estate and the Scottish Coastal Forum, which is being undertaken in 2014-2016. This study will include a case study of the PFOW.

434 The project will provide the baseline information on recreation and tourism activities in the marine environment plus spatial, temporal, economic and, where possible, social data about this sector.


435 The majority of use of the marine environment for recreation, sport, leisure and tourism takes place in the inshore area, i.e. within 12 nautical miles. Some activities, such as yacht cruising, are wide ranging while others, such as wreck diving, are focused on key areas. Activities often vary seasonally, e.g. wildlife watching is tied in with the natural cycles of breeding and migration. The freedom of use of the marine environment is one of its main attractions for recreation, sport and leisure pursuits and any restriction on this is likely to have an adverse effect on participation in them.

436 There is the potential for interactions, potentially positive, negative and neutral, with existing and future marine users. There is support for co-existence of activities where possible to ensure sustainable growth of the marine recreation and tourism sector, including the need to co-ordinate between onshore and offshore planning processes.

437 Early consultation regarding, and careful planning of, any development in the marine environment could ensure that pragmatic and safe shared use is established with any short or long term impacts minimised or mitigated.

438 In some cases there is a need for a strategic approach to the development of land-based facilities to support existing and future recreational, sporting and leisure use of the marine environment. These might include slipways, car parks and toilets. However, these will generally be small-scale in keeping with their surroundings. Opportunities to share or improve infrastructure or facilities should be discussed as part of any consultation in relation to proposed marine developments.

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 recreation, sport, leisure and tourism development(s) and/or activities where:

  • they do not adversely affect the natural and historic environment which is the resource that recreation, sport, leisure and tourism rely upon
  • 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 development(s) and/or activities of other sectors where:

  • during planning, construction and operation they minimise or mitigate any disruption and/or disturbance to recreation, sport, leisure and tourism activities, including the natural and historic 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 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


439 Marine recreation, sport, leisure and tourism activities are important to this region both in terms of supporting the local economy and enhancing the local communities' quality of life and well-being. The freedom of use of the marine environment is one of the main attractions of such activities and any restriction is likely to have an impact. Early consultation and careful planning will help minimise or mitigate these impacts and could provide opportunities for co-operation to the mutual benefit of users of the marine environment.

Supporting spatial information

Map 18: Recreational activities in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area including key surfing and windsurfing beaches, Royal Yachting Association cruising routes and sailing areas, recreational dive sites, sea kayaking and canoeing areas and the number of days spent sea angling in each region (Orkney and Highland regions) as reported in the Scottish Government Sea Angling Report.

Map 18: Recreational activities in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area including key surfing and windsurfing beaches, Royal Yachting Association cruising routes and sailing areas, recreational dive sites, sea kayaking and canoeing areas and the number of days spent sea angling in each region (Orkney and Highland regions) as reported in the Scottish Government Sea Angling Report.

Map 19: Density of recreational shipping in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. These data were produced for the Marine Scotland Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Shipping Study and were collected using Automatic Identification System ( AIS) data. These data cover the summer months of 2011 and 2012 and represent about 17% of recreational vessels visiting the local marinas.

Map 19: Density of recreational shipping in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. These data were produced for the Marine Scotland Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Shipping Study and were collected using Automatic Identification System (AIS) data. These data cover the summer months of 2011 and 2012 and represent about 17% of recreational vessels visiting the local marinas.

Future considerations

440 The ongoing Marine Recreation and Tourism study will have a case study for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters region and will provide data to improve knowledge of which marine-based tourism and recreation activities take place in the region. These data will also provide information on how such activities contribute to the local economy.

441 Spatial data collected via this study will be added to National Marine Plan interactive.

Further information

1 Tourism Scotland 2020

2 National Tourism Development Framework
http://www.visitscotland.org/pdf/Tourism Development Framework - FINAL.pdf

3 Marine Tourism Strategy

4 Marine Scotland Shipping Study

5 Sailing Tourism in Scotland

National Planning Framework 3

Scottish Planning Policy

Highland Tourism Partnership

North Highland Initiative

North Coast 500

Orkney Tourism Group

Visit Scotland Visitor Survey Data

sportscotland and Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport
http://www.sportscotland.org.uk/ and


Background and context

442 Virtually all marine activities rely on some form of marine transport. It forms the backbone of both existing and evolving marine commercial and leisure sectors. The trans-boundary nature of maritime activities also requires co-operation across local, regional, country and international boundaries. As an island community, Orkney is particularly reliant on life-line ferries and cargo ships for inter-island and mainland transport links and provision of most goods.

Information Box 24

Examples of marine transport activity in the PFOW

  • Ferries
  • Cargo ships
  • Cruise liners
  • Tugs
  • Tankers
  • Offshore vessels for energy industries
  • Fishing/Aquaculture
  • Recreation craft
  • Powerboats
  • Wildlife cruises
  • Dive charters
  • Kayakers

443 As competition for marine space grows, potential impacts on shipping and maritime safety have to be reconciled. Safety is the paramount consideration in all aspects of marine traffic.

Key legislation and policy guidance

444 The marine safety regime is underpinned by international safety, security and pollution control regulations and codes issued by the International Maritime Organisation. A series of measures have been introduced to support safety at sea and protection of the marine environment including conventions, recommendations and other instruments which are implemented in UK waters by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. These include:

  • The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 ( SOLAS) 1
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto and by the Protocol of 1997( MARPOL) 2
  • The Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 ( COLREG) 3
  • The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 ( STCW) 4
  • The Merchant Shipping (International Safety Management ( ISM) Code) Regulations 1998 5
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea III, known as UNCLOS III, was adopted in 1982. Its purpose is to establish a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans 6

Information Box 25


The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS) came into force in 1994. It is an international treaty that provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world's seas and oceans, inter alia, to ensure the conservation and equitable usage of resources and the marine environment and to ensure the protection and preservation of the living resources of the sea. UNCLOS also addresses such other matters as sovereignty, rights of usage in maritime zones, artificial installations and structures and navigational rights.

Current status

445 The Marine Scotland Shipping Study for Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters 2012 7 provides a detailed picture of some aspects of shipping activity in the PFOW area. The study considered commercial shipping and recreational vessel activity including yachts (cruising and racing), power boats, motor cruisers, recreational and sports fishing (e.g. sea angling), wildlife cruises and recreational diving. Commercial fishing (under licence) was excluded from the work as this is covered by other licensing requirements. Military and naval vessel activity was also excluded.

446 Detailed data on the key routes and activities within this study, along with the range of other topics covered in this Plan, make a contribution to safeguarding marine safety by highlighting the complex issues to be considered. For example, anchorages used by recreational vessels and the main routes used by fish farm vessels are plotted, which could help inform recreational decision-making.

447 The busiest commercial shipping routes are the Outer Sound, the approaches to the main harbours and the ferry routes. For recreational vessels, the main summer seasonal activity focused around the Orkney mainland and the links between Caithness and the eastern approaches to Orkney. However, it is recognised all vessels have the rights of innocent passage and freedom of navigation: a particular consideration in inclement weather where shelter from storms is vital. As some renewable energy developments are proceeding to deployment, marine traffic will increase, followed by ongoing operations and maintenance activities.


448 As development, such as marine tidal devices and shipping, along with a growing aquaculture industry and all other marine traffic, accelerates, there will be a corresponding increase in marine traffic. This has the potential for a number of cumulative impacts including increased risks of collision and pollution or the introduction of invasive non-native species and may add additional pressure to recreational marine users. In addition, anchoring can have important benthic impacts. Pinch-points around the Pentland Firth area, for example, could lead to congestion or displacement issues. This anticipated increase in marine traffic will require careful consideration of Emergency Towing Vessel provision for the PFOW area.

Sectoral Policy 6: Marine transport

Development(s) and/or activities will be supported by this Plan when it can be demonstrated that:

  • Adverse impacts on existing or planned shipping and ferry routes, navigational safety and access to ports and harbours have been avoided or appropriately mitigated, taking account of movements in all weather conditions

Proposed development(s) and/or activities which would have an adverse impact on efficient and safe movement of shipping between ports, harbours and other recognised anchorages should be refused.


449 Maritime safety is the paramount consideration for any marine activity therefore must be safeguarded.

Supporting spatial information

Map 20: Non-recreational shipping density in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Area. These data were produced for the Marine Scotland Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Shipping Study and were collected using Automatic Identification System ( AIS) data. These data cover the summer months of 2012.

Map 20: Non-recreational shipping density in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Area. These data were produced for the Marine Scotland Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Shipping Study and were collected using Automatic Identification System (AIS) data. These data cover the summer months of 2012.

Future considerations

450 As the rate and volume of maritime activity increases, safety will remain the paramount consideration. If changes to patterns of Arctic sea ice open up new shipping routes, this could lead to a significant increase in commercial traffic around the PFOW area. This could also lead to the increase of risk from invasive non-native species.

Further information

1 The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 ( SOLAS)

2 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973,
as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto and by the Protocol of 1997 ( MARPOL)

3 The Convention on the International Regulation for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 ( COLREG)

4 The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 ( STCW)

5 The Merchant Shipping (International Safety Management ( ISM) Code Regulations 1998

6 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS)

7 Shipping Study of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters

Strategic Area Navigation Appraisal Project SANAP


Background and context

451 Ports, harbours, marinas, piers and slipways (collectively referred to as ports and harbours hereafter), provide essential infrastructure to support the transportation, employment and recreational needs of local communities and the wider economy. Ferry, freight, commercial fisheries, tourism, aquaculture and marine renewable energy businesses rely on ports and harbours and the growth of these sectors is dependent on the availability of appropriate harbour facilities. Successfully operating ports also need to be serviced by available maintenance dredging and onshore support facilities and have land available for the growth of port-related business, industry and services. Dredging and the dumping of the associated spoil may also be required in areas out with ports and harbours.

Key legislation and policy guidance

452 As ports and harbours straddle the intertidal zone, they also straddle terrestrial planning and marine licensing legislation. Marine licences under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 are required for most construction activity below mean high water springs level. Close co-operation between the various decision-making bodies will help ensure that an integrated approach is taken (see General Policy 7: Integrating coastal and marine development), as required by both the terrestrial and marine planning legislation and guidance.

453 The Orkney County Council Act 1974 empowers Orkney Islands Council as the Harbour Authority to exercise powers within the harbour area. The harbour area includes Scapa Flow and its approaches, Wide Firth, Shapinsay Sound, Stromness, Kirkwall and the Flotta Oil Terminal. Each of the Isles ferry terminals is a Harbour Area in its own right by virtue of additional Acts after the 1974 Act, which extended the harbour areas.

454 In Highland, the main north coast ports and harbours are Scrabster and Gills Bay. Scrabster is run by a harbour trust whilst Gills Harbour (which incorporates Gills Bay) is managed by a community-owned company.

455 Ongoing maintenance and capital dredging activity required for ports and harbours and the related disposal of spoil at approved dump sites for spoil require a marine licence as controlled by Marine Scotland.

Current status

456 Orkney Islands Council aims to ensure that Orkney's piers and harbours are operated safely and maximise economic benefits for Orkney. There are 29 piers, harbours and slipways in Orkney that support a range of activities from large commercial industries to connecting remote small island communities. The main commercial ports are at Hatston, Kirkwall, Stromness and Lyness. These ports support a variety of sectors including commercial fisheries, freight and cargo, oil and gas, renewable energy, cruising liners, aquaculture and ferry transportation.

457 Orkney Islands Council and its partners have made significant investments in port infrastructure to support the development of growth industries. Along with the European Regional Development Fund, it has made an £8 million investment to extend the Hatston pier to support the marine renewables sector, which was completed in March 2013. Lyness Harbour and the adjoining development area is strategically placed to also provide operation and maintenance support to the renewable energy sector. Phase 1 of the £3.2 million Lyness Harbour upgrade is complete and is currently being used by various marine energy developers. Copland's Dock is a new £9.5 million pier and access road development in Stromness supported by Orkney Islands Council, European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Government. The pier was completed in December 2013, again supporting the marine renewable energy sector, along with inshore fisheries and aquaculture.

458 There are 17 harbours along the north Caithness Coast including Scrabster, the main harbour. Scrabster Harbour has been successful in maintaining a diverse income which includes fishing, timber, passenger transport, oil and gas, recreation and renewables. Phase 1 of its proposed expansion has been completed; this comprises new quays, laydown areas, tanker berths and a deep-water approach channel. This will be followed by Phase 2 which includes development of the 32-acre Enterprise Area at Scrabster Mains Farm, which will facilitate the growth of the harbour. Gills Harbour is also a strategically important harbour due to its close proximity to many of the sites which have been leased by the Crown Estate for marine renewables development and the ferry service connection to Orkney.

459 Detailed information on the land use policy and land allocations adjoining ports and harbours can be found in the relevant local authority Local Development Plans, master-plans and development briefs. These highlight projects that integrate terrestrial and marine planning.


460 As the marine renewables industry evolves, there may be competition for laydown/operational space. Heavy traffic in the proximity of the main ports and harbours generated by these growing offshore marine energy industries may also lead to local congestion at the harbours and connecting road network. As more projects come on-stream, there may also be a heavy demand for both skilled labour and boats to service the port and harbour operations.

461 Dredging and disposal of material can have a significant environmental effect. For example it can cause loss or damage to habitats and species and exposure of buried archaeological remains. Changing coastal processes and climate change could alter patterns of sediment deposition, leading to an increased requirement for the dredging of ports and harbours. This, in turn, could add pressure to related dredge spoil sites.

Sectoral Policy 7: Ports, harbours and dredging

The sustainable growth of the ports and harbours within the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area, particularly within existing facilities, will be supported by the Plan where:

  • access to ports and harbours is not restricted
  • safety considerations are primary
  • navigational routes are not compromised

Dredging within the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area will be supported by the Plan where:

  • dredged material is recycled or disposed of in appropriate locations


462 Most maritime activities rely on ports and harbours for the interface between sea and land. As such they are a vital link for the safe onward travel of both people and goods.

Supporting spatial information

Map 21: Main ports, harbours and ferry routes in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area.

Map 21: Main ports, harbours and ferry routes in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area.

Future considerations

463 As maritime industries expand, they have the potential to impact on the operation of ports and harbours, e.g. through the creating of choke points and obstructing shipping routes. Fine grain spatial planning of strategically important ports and harbours, and appropriate supporting policies, could be developed for potentially congested multi-use marine areas to operate effectively. It could be an aspiration for future regional marine plans to support commercial scale deployment of marine renewable energy projects, integrating compatibility with other port and harbour users.

464 Climate change has the potential to increasingly affect ports and harbours with increased storm surges. The winter storm surge of December 2012 demonstrated what significant environmental, social and economic impacts they can have on Highland and Orkney Harbours.

Further information

Orkney Islands Council Local Development Plan

Highland Council Local Development Plan

Orkney Islands Council Harbours

Orkney Ports Handbook

A New Vision For Thurso
http://www.highland.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/2542/report_of_the_wick_and_ thurso_charrettes_3_thurso_low_resolution&rct=j&frm=1&q=&esrc=s&sa=U&ei =a32_VNL0B8-v7AbB7YCYCQ&ved=0CBQQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNGgKkUukzFbbbrzp rg-MhtKSTzB_g

Scrabster Harbour


Background and context

465 The infrastructure associated with the supply or management of oil and gas, potable and waste water, electricity and telecommunications is vital to maintain these services. The drive for improved communication, connectivity and improved service has increased use of the marine area. Growth of the marine and offshore energy sector will increase demand for upgrades to existing infrastructure and for new connections. There will be a continued need to maintain and protect infrastructure associated with potable and waste water and, where necessary, improve the infrastructure. The costs of operating, maintaining and developing the electricity network in the PFOW area are passed on to electricity customers served by the North of Scotland area so need to be economically justified.

466 In the PFOW area, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution ( SSEPD) has been undertaking work in relation to the 'Orkney Caithness' 132kV 1 reinforcement connection since the Crown Estate Leasing Round in 2010. The existing cables between Orkney and Caithness are at full capacity and SSEPD are looking at options to develop a new connection to allow marine renewable developers to connect to the transmission network on Caithness. This will provide grid access for marine renewable projects and, potentially, onshore wind projects across the whole of Orkney. SSEPD has undertaken ongoing planning and consultation 2 in Orkney regarding grid capacity and land fall for cables. There may also be a need to upgrade or provide additional new cables to allow the connection of new onshore renewable developments on the islands within Orkney.

467 One of the Scottish Government's Digital Strategy 3 projects will see rural and island communities in the Highlands and Islands benefit from the roll out of high speed broadband. This investment in broadband infrastructure is intended to bring economic and social benefits to many isolated communities and encourage growth in related jobs. Highlands and Islands Enterprise entered into a contract with BT in March 2013 to deliver access to fibre broadband to around 84% of homes and businesses in Highlands and Islands by the end of 2016. The project involves installing 800km of new fibre infrastructure and the installation of the approximately 385km of subsea cabling is now completed.

468 Infrastructure associated with the electricity network, communications and oil and gas industry such as pipelines are required to be protected by exclusion zones. Infrastructure associated with water supply and treatment such as freshwater pipelines between islands, and final effluent discharge pipelines and combined sewer and emergency overflows, also need to be safeguarded.

Key legislation and policy guidance

469 The Submarine Telegraph Act 1885 4 applies to cables in UK waters and was most recently updated by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 5. This Act aims to protect cables by, amongst other things, making it an offence to damage a cable and restricting vessels and fishing activities within certain distances of cables. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS) 1982 6 enhanced the international regulation to include all submarine cables. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 ( COLREGS) 7 also provides for vessels engaged in cable operations or fishing to have the ability to work as required within a traffic separation scheme.

470 There are recommendations in place for safety zones around some marine structures, e.g. the oil and gas industry has a requirement for safety zones of 500m around subsea installations established by Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) Orders under Section 22 of the Petroleum Act 1987. Oil and Gas UK 8 and the Health and Safety Executive 9 provide guidance on this issue.

471 Developers who apply for a licence to undertake work that will be within one nautical mile of the known location of a submarine cable will need to determine whether there is likely to be a conflict between the proposed development and the submarine cable and, if so, work together with the asset owner to mitigate this conflict. Developers will need to ensure they have crossing and proximity agreements from existing tenants in close proximity to their work and work restriction zones before obtaining the necessary lease or licence from the Crown Estate 10.

472 Subsea Cables UK is a forum of national and international companies which own, operate or service submarine cables in the UK and surrounding waters and has the principal goal of promoting marine safety and safeguarding of submarine cables from man-made and natural hazards. Subsea Cables UK provides guidance 11 on a range of issues regarding cables and their potential interaction with other industries.

473 The Crown Estate has published and supported several publications 12 dealing with submarine cables and offshore renewable energy installations and provides recommendations to reduce conflict between the submarine cable and renewable industries where the activities or future maintenance requirements for one may pose a risk for the other.

474 The Kingfisher Information Service - Offshore Renewable and Cable Awareness ( KIS- ORCA) project provides charts with the location of power and telecommunication cables. The legislation, such as that noted above, and also detailed in the Mariners Handbook (2009, 9th Edition, UKHO NP100 Page 2014) outlines the core legal principles and responsibilities in relation to cables and telecommunications infrastructure while KIS- ORCA details best practice for fishermen and their responsibility when it comes to avoiding fouling and/or damaging snagged cables. The Mariners Handbook (2009) specifically highlights that fishing should not be undertaken over subsea cables and this awareness reinforcement is important in reducing risks for both mariners and the cables.

Current status

475 Intergovernmental work began in 2012 to progress Scottish island renewables deployment and grid connections and led to additional support for the islands being announced in December 2013. This work has resulted in a Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum being established to develop a series of actions to support the delivery of island renewables, one of which is to convene a working group to pursue research funding to support Orkney grid reinforcement.

476 The Maritime and Coastguard Agency also provides guidance in Marine Guidance Note 371 (or subsequent updates) in relation to cables associated with Offshore Renewable Energy Installations.

477 The network owner, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution ( SSEPD), has recently consulted on the electricity network on Orkney and options for reinforcement. SSEPD continue to liaise with the intergovernmental group regarding project development. In addition, there are ongoing discussions with onshore wind developers about potential future interests in the islands.

478 There are a number of technical options for Orkney grid reinforcement such as transmission reinforcement for contracted developers, distribution reinforcement for general use, nominated developers or marine research and development of a private wire.


479 The most common proven 13 cause of damage to submarine cables is ship anchors followed by risk from fishing activity. Where sediment conditions permit, cables can be buried throughout their length, however not all cables can be, or should be, buried for a variety of reasons. Burial protects the cable and minimises risk of interactions which can be a danger to maritime activity through snagging of the cable with fishing gear or anchors. Dredging, mooring and installing infrastructure on the seabed also has the potential to affect existing cables but can be mitigated with effective management of the marine environment and the correct use of cable awareness information and navigational charts. Reactive measures following damage to cables is potentially expensive and can cause disruption to power generation and distribution and telecommunications.

480 In some cases it may not be feasible to bury a cable and, where appropriate, other recognised and approved measures should be used to protect the cable on a case-by-case basis. Risk assessments should direct the choice of feasible, practicable and cost-effective alternative methods of cable protection. In some instances, it may not be desirable or practicable to bury cable for physical, economic or environmental impact reasons, and surface-laid cable may be the sensible and achievable solution.

481 As well as undertaking appropriate protection measures for their cables and other marine users, cable owners provide information via cable awareness projects such as KIS- ORCA, where cable information is given freely to fishermen and other seabed users in order that they can avoid potential snagging of cables. After laying, cable routes should be notified to UK Hydrographic Office ( UKHO) who will update charts in accordance with UKHO policy.

482 The installation and operation of cables has the potential to have an adverse impact on the marine environment, e.g. through direct physical damage or through the presence of Electromagnetic fields ( EMF), which may have an effect on some marine species. However, carefully planned routes can mitigate many of the issues during installation and further research is being carried out on the impact of EMF. Initial results suggest there are minimal effects and that burial of the cable mitigates this risk.

Sectoral Policy 8: Pipelines, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure

Safeguarding existing pipelines, electricity and telecommunications cables Development(s) and/or 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-bycase 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 exempt14 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 when 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 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, cable armouring, shore end marker beacons and admiralty chart updates) 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 decisionmakers 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.


483 Pipelines, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure are important both regionally and nationally and will be vital for the foreseeable future. It is important to reduce the potential risks to the assets and other marine users and this can be achieved by sound project planning and putting in place appropriate protection measures where required and practicable. The selection of these measures will require developers to engage with relevant stakeholders at an early planning stage in order that the measures undertaken are feasible, practicable and cost-effective.

Supporting spatial information

Map 22: Pipelines, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure in and around the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. The map includes power cables to, and between, the Orkney Islands, telecommunication cables and hydrocarbon pipelines.

Map 22: Pipelines, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure in and around the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. The map includes power cables to, and between, the Orkney Islands, telecommunication cables and hydrocarbon pipelines.

Future considerations

484 There will be ongoing discussions regarding the 'Orkney Caithness' connection and the choice of location for the substation in Orkney.

485 The Scottish Government supports the development of network infrastructure in the right places. The outputs of new research and strategies such as the Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study will be taken into account to improve the knowledge of interactions between cables and other activities. The information from this process will help inform marine spatial planning in the PFOW area.

Further information

1 Orkney Caithness project:

1 and related documents:

2 Scottish and Southern Energy - Information on Connecting Orkney consultation

3 Scotland's Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland - Scottish Government 2011

4 Submarine Telegraph Act 1885

5 Merchant Shipping Act 1995

6 The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS)

7 The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 ( COLREGS)

8 UK Oil and Gas - Information On Safety Zones

9 Health and Safety Executive Safety Zones Around Oil And Gas Installations In Waters Around The UK

10 Crown Estate Heads of Terms for Submarine Telecommunications Cables
http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/5700/heads_of_terms_for_submarine_ telecoms_cables.pdf

11 Subsea Cables UK Guidance

12 Crown Estate Proximity Study

13 Green, M. and Brooks, K. (2011) The Threat of Damage to Submarine Cables by the Anchors of Ships Underway. CIL- ICPC Workshop on the Protection of Submarine Cables 14-15 April 2011, Singapore.
International Cable Protection Committee (2009) Damage to Submarine Cables Caused by Anchors. Loss Prevention Bulletin 18 March 2009

14 The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order 2011 (Amended 2012)

and The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Offshore Region) Order 2011 (Amended 2012)

Local Development Plans:
http://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/O/Orkney-Local-Development-Plan.htm http://www.highland.gov.uk/info/178/local_and_statutory_development_plans/199/ highland-wide_local_development_plan


Background and context

486 Marine aggregates are sand, gravel or crushed rock used in construction, principally as a component of concrete or for land reclamation and coastal defence projects. In Scotland, there is currently limited demand for marine aggregates as land supplies are more readily accessible. However, if there are significant technological and economic changes, there may be potential for the balance to change.

Key legislation and policy guidance

487 Marine aggregate removal is regulated by Marine Scotland as part of its licensing duties, under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 1. A Crown Estate seabed lease is also required for the areas within which dredging will occur. The Crown Estate is reviewing its marine minerals licensing obligations. To assist with this process, it is undertaking a Habitats Regulations Assessment of the potential impacts of mineral extraction on Natura and Ramsar sites.

Current status

488 The Crown Estate Commissioners own the mineral rights to the seabed extending out to the edge of the UK continental shelf. Work undertaken by the British Geological Survey on behalf of the Crown Estate maps these mineral resources. This work shows relatively extensive areas around Orkney and in the Pentland Firth with potentially workable mineral deposits. However, these data are based on a desk study and would require verification on a case-by-case basis before any extraction could commence.


489 There are no current licences for marine aggregate extraction in the PFOW area that require safeguarding.

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.


490 Although there is no marine aggregate activity in the region at the moment, potential for growth of future developments should be safeguarded. Any subsequent development would have to ensure that all appropriate environmental issues were considered and mitigated appropriately.

Supporting spatial information

Map 23: Marine aggregate deposits in and around the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. This map also includes open disposal sites for dredging activity.

Map 23: Marine aggregate deposits in and around the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. This map also includes open disposal sites for dredging activity.

Future considerations

491 Subsequent regional marine plans may have to consider measures to safeguard mineral resources. If recovery technology is improved or more competitive sources of aggregates become available, policies will have to be flexible to accommodate changing requirements and considerations.

Further information

1 Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

Mineral Resources of the Scottish Waters and the Central North Sea

General guidance


Background and context

492 Defence is a reserved issue but there is a benefit in identifying the implications of defence marine use for other marine users and to minimise potential impacts.

493 The Ministry of Defence ( MOD) uses several areas in, or adjacent to, the Marine Spatial Plan area, mainly for military training purposes. Cape Wrath, in particular, is an important exercise area, firing range and a firing danger area used for major live-firing exercises often in conjunction with North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO) forces. A naval exercise area is located immediately west of the PFOW area. There is an exercise and firing danger area to the east of the area.

494 Military firing ranges are not in constant use but are used for mission specific and pre-deployment training. Other activities may be permitted in the area where these are consistent with operational requirements. Permanent installations will be at risk from live-firing damage and are therefore unlikely to be compatible.

Key legislation and policy guidance

495 The MOD can regulate or restrict the use of sea areas either temporarily or permanently under the provisions of the Military Lands Act 1892 1 and 1900 2 and the Land Powers Defence Act 1958 3.

496 The MOD has a Secretary of State's policy statement on health, safety and environmental protection 4 and a strategy for Sustainable Development 5. These documents outline MOD's commitment and obligations to protecting the environment including the marine environment.

Current status

497 The exercise areas in the PFOW are used extensively for defence training throughout the year.

498 Defence is a reserved matter and future defence plans cannot be assessed beyond a high level for this region. The assumption is made that such activities will remain constant.


499 MOD activity can have an impact on other marine users such as fisheries, recreational boating and shipping when there are temporary restrictions on use of the area. The fishing industry and the MOD have an agreed code of conduct 6 which aims to resolve conflicts.

500 Other developments such as aquaculture, oil and gas and marine renewables may cause navigational issues for MOD activity and new infrastructure can, in some cases, lead to disruption to MOD activity, e.g. radar activity.

501 Impacts on the marine environment can include introduction of non-native species via ballast water and hull fouling, noise from sonar activity and use of live explosives, pollution, e.g. release of oil and other hazardous substances, and operational activity and port developments having an impact on habitat and species. The MOD has processes in place to manage its impacts on the marine environment to minimise adverse effects. The MOD has worked with Scottish Natural Heritage and Joint Nature Conservation Committee to develop environmental risk assessments for their various exercises. This includes use of a model which sets thresholds for different noisy activities based on the number of marine animals in the area.

502 The MOD is committed to the protection of the natural and historic environment and seeks to comply with relevant legislation where applicable to defence activities. However, it is recognised that defence-related activities, including extensive test and evaluation functions, may pose risks to the marine environment and the MOD may be exempt from legislative duties on the grounds of over-riding public interest in some cases. Where defence has exemptions from legislation, MOD maintains arrangements that are, as far as reasonably practicable, at least as good as those required by UK legislation.

Sectoral Policy 10: Defence

Development proposals in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area that are in, or affect, Ministry of Defence exercise areas, firing ranges or firing danger areas must ensure that agreement for such use of the area has been agreed with the Ministry of Defence.


503 The MOD has practice exercise areas that are in, or near, the PFOW area and this means there are restrictions on what other activity can take place in these areas. As certain developments may not be compatible with MOD activities there is a requirement for early discussions with the MOD to reach agreement as to whether the development will have an effect on their activities.

Supporting spatial information

Map 24: Military practice and exercise areas in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. The map also shows the firing range installation at Cape Wrath.

Map 24: Military practice and exercise areas in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area. The map also shows the firing range installation at Cape Wrath.

Future considerations

504 The assumption is made that such activities will remain constant.

Further information

1 Military Lands Act 1892

2 Military Lands Act 1900

3 Land Powers Defence Act 1958

4 Secretary of State's Policy Statement on Health, Safety and Environmental Protection
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/353935/201408_SofS_Policy_Statement_Fallon.pdf

5 Ministry of Defence Sustainable Development strategy

6 Code of Conduct Between MOD and Fishing Industry

Brownlow et al. (2015) Investigation into the long-finned pilot whale mass stranding event, Kyle of Durness, 22nd July 2011.


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