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 Planning

9. The Joint Ministerial Marine Planning Statement between the UK and Scottish administrations confirms that each will prepare marine plans in the way that is most appropriate for its marine planning regions, and that they will collaborate to enable joined-up marine planning across borders.

The Marine Policy Statement

10. The UK Marine Policy Statement was published jointly by all the UK Administrations in March 2011. It sets a vision for the whole UK marine area and provides a framework for preparing marine plans, including economic, social and environmental considerations which need to be taken into account and strategic policy objectives for key marine sectors.

11. The Marine Policy Statement makes a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the marine planning area.

12. The Scottish National Marine Plan and any subsequent Scottish Regional Marine Plans must accord with the Statement.

13. All public authorities taking authorisation or enforcement decisions that affect or might affect the UK marine area must do so in accordance with the UK Marine Policy Statement, the Scottish National Marine Plan and any subsequent Regional Marine Plan, unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. This applies to decisions on terrestrial planning applications and enforcement action.

14. Public bodies when making decisions which are capable of affecting the UK marine area which are not enforcement or authorisation decisions must have regard to the Statement and Plans. This applies to the preparation and adoption of terrestrial development plans and to other terrestrial planning functions.

Marine Plans

15. Marine Plans must set out economic, social, marine ecosystem and climate change objectives for a marine plan area, consistent with the Marine Policy Statement. They will set out how marine resources can best be managed and will ensure that different and potentially competing activities are managed in such a way that they contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

16. The Act requires the Scottish Ministers to prepare an assessment of the condition of the Scottish marine region at the time of the plan's preparation - Scotland's Marine Atlas. This provides an evidence base upon which the draft Scottish National Marine Plan has been developed.

17. Marine plans must be kept under review. A report for each marine plan must be prepared at least every five years, at which time Ministers must consider whether the plan needs to be amended or replaced.

The Scottish National Marine Plan

18. The Act requires Scottish Ministers to prepare and adopt a National Marine Plan.

19. The Draft Scottish National Marine Plan is published for consultation, accompanied by this Circular. Once adopted, in agreement with the UK administration, it will be a plan for the whole of the UK marine area which is adjacent to Scotland, out to 200 nautical miles. It will help deliver the UK and Scottish Government's international responsibilities and Directives relating to the marine environment including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Scottish Marine Regions

20. The Act empowers the Scottish Ministers to create Scottish Marine Regions, and to delegate marine planning powers for these regions. It is Ministers' intention to establish a number of Scottish Marine Regions and to devolve marine planning powers to a Regional Marine Planning Partnership for each Region.

21. These Partnerships will comprise representatives from a wide range of stakeholder interests, including public authorities and representatives that reflect the commercial, recreational and conservation interests of that region. Each Marine Planning Partnership will be required to create a regional marine plan for their area, taking into account the National Marine Plan and any specific directions from Ministers.

22. Marine Region Plans will be more spatially detailed than the National Marine Plan - reflecting their smaller scale, the input of local stakeholders and local knowledge, and the increased level and complexity of marine activity that often occurs in coastal zones. A regional marine plan must conform with the national marine plan unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. A Regional Marine Planning Partnership must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the plan is compatible with any adjoining regional plan and with the terrestrial development plan for any adjoining land.

23. Marine Regions will not extend beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast.

24. The Scottish Government consulted in 2010 on options for the basis on which the number and boundaries of Scottish Marine Regions may be determined. Ministers have considered responses and will soon confirm the Scottish Marine Region boundaries.

25. Final approval of any regional marine plan is for Scottish Ministers.

The Marine Planning Process

26. The marine plan for an area will consist of the National Marine Plan and any regional marine plan which is in effect for that area.

27. The Marine Acts require notice to be given, including to neighbouring terrestrial planning authorities, of the intention to prepare a national or regional marine plan. A statement of public participation must be prepared, and a consultation draft of the plan published.

28. The Scottish National Marine Plan must be laid before the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Ministers must consider any resolution the Scottish Parliament may make before they adopt the plan. In so far as it relates to Scotland's offshore waters (12 to 200 nautical miles) the Scottish National Marine Plan has to be adopted with the agreement of the Secretary of State.

29. Marine plan boundaries extend up to Mean High Water Springs. Terrestrial planning boundaries extend down to Mean Low Water Springs, with the exception of marine aquaculture. There is therefore an overlap in the inter-tidal area. This overlap will assist the integration of and consistency between both planning regimes. This can best be achieved by:

Liaison between terrestrial and marine planning authorities.

30. This will involve formal consultation at each successive stage of marine and terrestrial plan making, but also close collaboration throughout both processes. For example, relevant Marine Planning Partnerships could be involved in the preparation of terrestrial plans to the same extent as the statutory 'Key Agencies'. It is likely that local authorities will have a key role in the great majority of marine and terrestrial plans, and having one or more officials who are closely involved in both processes will be desirable.

Timing of plans.

31. Whilst marine and terrestrial plans each have statutory requirements which are separate and different, it may in some cases be possible to programme them so that the key stages, including key consultation stages, are aligned. This may deliver efficiencies overall, and may also assist in stakeholder and community engagement.

Plans which take into account both terrestrial and marine impacts.

32. Terrestrial plans should be prepared with due account taken of their impact on the marine environment and its users, and on marine policy objectives. Marine plans should be prepared with due account taken of their impact on the terrestrial environment and on terrestrial policy objectives.

Consistency between policies and proposals in marine and terrestrial plans.

33. Future terrestrial plans should be consistent with the Marine Policy Statement and the marine plans for the area. Marine plans should be consistent with terrestrial plans and with national objectives for terrestrial planning in Scottish Planning Policy and the National Planning Framework.

34. In particular there should be consistency and mutual support in the specific development proposals in marine and terrestrial plans which affect each other, and each plan should make provision for any land or sea resource and infrastructure which may be necessary to support a development proposal in the other plan.

35. Such consistency is likely to be most important for certain policy objectives, including renewable energy; electricity networks; adaptation to climate change, including coastal and flood defence; aquaculture; ports and harbours; public access and recreation; protected areas; waste water infrastructure; and landscape and seascape.

36. It is evident that both terrestrial and marine planning systems and their respective policy objectives will evolve over time. Common sense judgements on the correct policy objectives to adopt at any particular time will be called for as each terrestrial and marine plan comes to be prepared and then revised.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

37. In most circumstances the marine and terrestrial planning and consenting regimes will, if operated in the joined-up manner we advocate, be sufficient to ensure an integrated approach to the planning and management of the coastal zone.

38. There may, however, be some areas where complex or competing interests require a more fine-grained approach. This is most likely to be where there are a high number of uses and users of coastal resources, for example in and around some of our firths, sea-lochs and sounds. It will be for marine and terrestrial planning authorities to consider and agree, in each case, whether there is a requirement for more detailed co-ordination in the form of integrated management of the coastal zone. Where it is agreed by the respective planning authorities that this is desirable, this should remain consistent with the policies and proposals in the respective terrestrial and marine plans.

Sharing the evidence base.

39. Marine and terrestrial planning authorities should aim, where appropriate, to share a common evidence base on which to prepare monitoring statements, to found the policies and proposals in their plans and to support statutory and other assessments such as Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Appraisal. This will aid efficiency in the plan-making process, improve the quality and comprehensiveness of these assessments, and aid consistency and clarity in all plans.


Back to top