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

Renewable Energy

51 The Scottish Government has developed a system of sectoral marine planning. These non-statutory plans, which we are consulting on at the same time as this Circular and the draft National Marine Plan, seek to facilitate the development of commercial scale renewable energy developments in the most sustainable locations around Scotland.

52. Terrestrial development plans and decisions should be consistent with and facilitate marine renewable energy developments which have been consented or which are supported in marine plans and in sectoral plans like the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan, the National Planning Framework and Blue Seas Green Energy prepared by the Scottish Government. This includes related infrastructure like grid connections, sub-stations, testing facilities, carbon capture and storage, manufacturing and assembly facilities, and ports and harbours infrastructure.

53. For marine based electricity generating stations in excess of 1 MW in the inshore area (out to 12 nautical miles) and in excess of 50 MW in the offshore area, which will in most cases be for renewable forms of energy, special licensing procedures will allow Marine Scotland to consider applications for consents and licences under both the Marine and Electricity Acts together. Marine Scotland may also process other licence applications which may be needed for a project, for example a European Protected Species licence, at the same time.

54. Planning permission is likely to be required for the components of marine based electricity generating stations which are above Mean Low Water Springs, including any substations. Section 36 of the Electricity Act applies to generating stations above 1 MW capacity inshore (from 0-12nm) and above 50 MW offshore (12-200nm). In these cases a statutory provision in the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, amending s57 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, will allow Scottish Ministers to direct that planning permission is deemed to be granted for the ancillary onshore components and related onshore infrastructure for a marine based electricity generating station consented under Section 36. Developers may still choose to make a separate planning application for the onshore components if they wish.

55. The Scottish Government considers that, in most cases, a single licensing process will be more efficient and effective than a separate application to the planning authority for planning permission. In either event, developers should seek early pre-application consultation with the planning authority. Any separate planning applications for development classed as 'major' under the Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Development) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, or 'national' under the National Planning Framework, will require formal pre-application consultation.

56. In other cases (below 1 MW capacity inshore and below 50 MW offshore) separate planning permission for the onshore components will always be required.

57. 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 an advisory/decision making group. This group is formally known as the Marine Renewables Facilitators Group ( MRFG). The group normally comprises representatives of the key regulators and statutory consultees who are suitably experienced and empowered by their organisations to provide advice, guidance and where necessary are prepared to agree compromises to assist MS-LOT in finalising a view on an aspect of an application.


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