Planning Circular: The relationship between the statutory land use planning system and marine planning and licensing

All developments and activities which take place in Scotland’s seas have implications onshore too – ranging from changing infrastructure requirements to the impacts on communities of economic growth or decline.

The Scottish Government has produced a cir

Marine Legislation

5. The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 ('the Act') along with the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 ('the UK Act') is the legislative and management framework for the marine environment. Implementation of the Acts, in particular marine planning, provides key delivery mechanisms of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Directive requires EU member states to develop national strategies on how to achieve and maintain Good Environmental Status of the marine environment by 2020.

6. The Act provides a framework to help balance competing demands on Scotland's seas. It introduces duties to protect and enhance the marine environment. The main measures include:

  • Marine planning: a new statutory marine planning system to sustainably manage the increasing, and often conflicting, demands on our seas.
  • Marine licensing: a simpler licensing system, minimising the number of licences required for development in the marine environment.
  • Marine conservation: improved conservation for marine natural and cultural heritage, with new powers to protect and manage areas of importance for marine wildlife, habitats and historic monuments.
  • Seal conservation: much improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system to ensure appropriate management where necessary
  • Enforcement: a range of enhanced powers of marine conservation and licensing.

7. Under Section 4 of the Act, Scottish Ministers and public bodies must, in carrying out any statutory function which affects the Scottish marine area (inshore waters out to 12 nautical miles), act in a way best calculated to mitigate and adapt to climate change, so far as is consistent with the purpose of the function concerned. This applies to terrestrial planning functions which affect the marine area.

8. Under the Act and the devolution settlement the Scottish Ministers have responsibility for marine planning from Mean High Water Springs out to 12 nautical miles. In addition, the UK Act executively devolves responsibility to the Scottish Ministers for marine planning, nature conservation, licensing and enforcement in waters adjacent to Scotland out to 200 nautical miles. With the approval of the Secretary for State, this will include planning for reserved activities such as oil and gas, shipping and telecommunications, although licensing for these remains reserved to the UK Government.


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