Publication - Research and analysis

Planning Scotland's Seas: 2013 - Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas Consultation Overview Sustainability Appraisal

Published: 19 Aug 2013
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

This report documents the findings of a Sustainablity Appraisal to accompany the 2013 public consultation on possible nature conservation marine protected areas (pMPAs).

89 page PDF

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89 page PDF

1.8 MB

Planning Scotland's Seas: 2013 - Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas Consultation Overview Sustainability Appraisal
3. Approach to the Sustainability Appraisal

89 page PDF

1.8 MB

3. Approach to the Sustainability Appraisal

3.0.1 The following sections set out a brief overview of the processes used in the different assessments. Full details are provided in the reports of the SEA and the socio-economic assessment.

3.1 Approach to the SEA

3.1.1 The SEA was undertaken by the Scottish Government's Environmental Assessment Team, and was advised by a Project Advisory Group, which included national representatives of potentially affected marine industries, environmental Non-Governmental Organisations ( NGOs), key agencies, and other national and strategic-level stakeholders.

3.1.2 The purpose of the SEA was to assess the potential effects of the possible MPAs on the environment. The SEA has not assessed the scientific or conservation effectiveness of the possible MPAs. For example, the SEA has not evaluated whether or not the pMPAs, alongside the existing measures, will achieve their conservation objectives. This has been undertaken by SNH and JNCC, as part of the MPA identification and selection process.

3.1.3 The SEA has assessed each of the possible MPA locations, as well as the potential for the cumulative effects of the nature conservation MPA network. This has not included the areas of search, as these remain the subject of further study. Assessment of any possible MPAs in these areas will be progressed, as required, once further information is available.

3.1.4 The possible MPAs include draft management options for each feature. These have been assessed, at a strategic level, for their potential to displace activities, and the effects that this may have in terms of activities in new areas or intensification of already-existing activities.

3.1.5 Historic MPA proposals have been treated as part of the environmental baseline, and included in the cumulative assessment.

Scope of the Environmental Topics Assessed

3.1.6 An initial review of the possible MPAs against the environmental topics set out in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 suggested that potential effects would be focused on biodiversity, water, and climatic factors. The scoping report proposed that the SEA should focus on these factors, but sought advice as to whether cultural heritage and landscape/seascape should be included.

3.1.7 Several scoping responses suggested that the scope of the assessment should be wider than that proposed in the scoping report, and should include:

  • geodiversity
  • landscape/seascape
  • cultural heritage
  • different aspects of climatic factors to those proposed
  • population and human health

3.1.8 These were considered and the resulting scope of the environmental topics used in the SEA comprises:

  • biodiversity, flora and fauna. This will include the seabed strata and/or bottom sediments, and their contribution to the ecological/environmental status of water bodies;
  • marine geodiversity
  • climatic factors

Details are provided in the Environmental Report.

3.1.9 The following have been considered by the socio-economic assessment:

  • social and economic effects, including health and safety;
  • the effects of the possible MPAs on other users of the marine environment, both adverse and beneficial;
  • where traditional fishing activity may be lost, as a potential social impact with effects on cultural heritage.

3.1.10 A set of key questions, known as SEA objectives ( Table 4), was used to structure the assessment, and the pMPAs were assessed against these, in terms of:

  • direct effects, e.g. benefits for biodiversity through changes to human activities progressed in certain locations
  • indirect effects, e.g. the effects of displacement of fishing on previously unfished areas or the intensification of effort in existing fisheries

The results are provided in Appendix 1, and discussed in Section 4.

3.1.11 A key issue was the potential for displacement of marine activities, resulting from the implementation of possible management measures. The SEA reviewed the environmental implications of this potential displacement, by considering:

  • the sensitivity of MPA features to marine activities;
  • the recommended measures for management of these features, for each pMPA;
  • the potential for displacement from implementation of management measures, for each feature. For example, the nature of some of these features is such that management could be zoned.

This information was then fed into the overall assessment.

3.1.12 At this stage, there is uncertainty around what form the management measures would take, and their application across each of the pMPAs. This uncertainty is discussed more fully in paragraph 3.2.7.

3.1.13 Management at a site level is being developed based on science and discussions with stakeholders. Participation is key to the successful delivery of a well-managed network. Stakeholders can provide higher-resolution local environmental knowledge and understanding of specific locations and the activities that take place, which will assist in providing greater certainty and fewer precautionary conclusions about management measures. These recommendations for potential management measures act as the basis for these discussions around pMPA management. These will continue during and after the consultation period.

Table 4. SEA Objectives

SEA Topics SEA Objective
Biodiversity, flora and fauna
  • to safeguard (and, where appropriate, enhance) marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions
  • to maintain or work towards good ecological/environmental status of water bodies
  • to maintain and protect the character and integrity of the seabed
  • see biodiversity
Soil: marine geodiversity
  • to safeguard (and, where appropriate, enhance) geodiversity features
Soil: seabed
  • seabed integrity: see biodiversity
Climatic factors
  • to reduce GHG emissions from vessels

3.2 Approach to the Socio-Economic Assessment

3.2.1 The social and economic analyses in the Sustainability Appraisal are based on the findings of the socio-economic assessment commissioned by Marine Scotland and undertaken by ABPmer and eftec [6] . The project was steered by a Project Steering Group, comprising members of the Scottish Government, JNCC and SNH, and was advised by the Project Advisory Group ( paragraph 3.1.1).

3.2.2 The purpose of the study was to assess the potential economic and social effects of the suite of possible MPAs in Scottish offshore and territorial waters. It investigated the potential economic benefits and costs, and associated potential social impacts, of designating each individual possible MPA. It also considered the potential economic benefits and costs, and associated potential social impacts, of designating the suite of possible MPAs as a whole.

3.2.3 This SA report sets out the findings of the socio-economic assessment at national level; the detailed site-specific analysis is reported in the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments ( BRIAs). The analysis at a national level has been built up from site-specific assessments of costs and benefits. Within this, assessment has also been made of the potential for cumulative impacts, including any economies or diseconomies of scale. Details of the methods and analytical approach employed are provided in Chapter 2 and Appendix B of the socio-economic assessment report.

3.2.4 The approach taken has been to assess the impacts of designation of possible MPAs against a 'do nothing' option. This option represents what could potentially occur within a given area were possible MPAs not to be taken forward. This allows a comparison of the impacts from designation of possible MPAs against what is expected to have occurred in the absence of designations.

3.2.5 It has been assumed that, should designation proceed, all sites are designated in 2014: this is the base year for the assessment. An assessment period of 20 years following designation has been selected as providing a reasonable time period within which the main impacts are likely to occur. The assessment period therefore runs from 2014 to 2033.

3.2.6 It has been assumed that where management measures are required to be implemented for unlicensed or non-spatially licensed activity ( e.g. fishing licences), these are implemented between 2014 and 2016. Where management measures are required for spatially-licensed activities, these will be implemented at the time of application.

3.2.7 There are a number of factors associated with the designation of MPAs that influence the scale of potential impacts, including:

  • The location and extent of MPA features within possible MPAs;
  • The location and scale of some new development activities over the assessment period (for example, offshore renewables and carbon capture and storage ( CCS) infrastructure) and the extent to which these new developments might interact with MPA features;
  • The nature and scale of management measures that might be required to support achievement of conservation objectives for MPA features; and
  • The extent to which MPA features are already protected by existing policy commitments.

3.2.8 To address these uncertainties, three scenarios have been developed, which have been used to inform the range of possible costs and benefits at site level for each possible MPA. The scenarios do not take account of potential differences in the location and scale of new development activity as this would introduce an inconsistency into the future baseline between scenarios. The three scenarios have therefore focused on the following key factors:

  • A 'lower' scenario where:
    • Requirements for management measures are at the lower end of a possible range of measures aimed at achieving MPA feature conservation objectives;
    • The spatial extent of the feature requiring protection is towards the lower end of the estimated range; and
    • It is assumed that no additional management measures are required for OSPAR/ BAP features for activities with spatially based licences.
    • An 'intermediate' scenario where:
    • Requirements for management measures are based on SNH/ JNCC's current best view on management options required to address the risks to features;
    • The spatial extent of the feature requiring protection is towards the middle of the estimated range; and
    • It is assumed that additional management measures are required for non- OSPAR/ BAP features and different conditions on management for some OSPAR/ BAP features for activities with spatially-based licences over and above current practice.
  • A 'higher' scenario, where:
    • Requirements for management measures are at the upper end of a possible range of measures aimed at achieving MPA feature conservation objectives;
    • The spatial extent of the feature requiring protection is towards the upper end of the estimated range; and
    • It is assumed that additional management measures are required for non- OSPAR/ BAP features and different conditions on management for some OSPAR/ BAP features for activities with spatially-based licences over and above current practice.

Details of the approach to the development of scenarios are set out in more detail in Section 2.3.1. and Appendix C of the socio-economic assessment report.

3.2.9 The approach to identifying and assessing impacts is cognisant of the fact that the designation of MPAs will give rise to a range of potential costs and benefits:

  • Impacts to activities:
    • Loss or displacement of current (or future) economic activity;
    • Increased operating costs of economic activity (additional costs of applying for licences, implementing in situ management measures); and
    • Benefits to activities ( e.g. from enhanced user experience).
  • Social impacts:
    • Social impacts arising as a result of cost impacts on economic activities, assessed through a distributional analysis which considers the distribution of the key quantified economic costs and identifies the social impacts that could be generated as a result.
  • Costs to the public sector:
    • Preparation of Marine Management Schemes;
    • Preparation of Statutory Instruments;
    • Development of voluntary measures;
    • Site monitoring;
    • Compliance and enforcement;
    • Promotion of public understanding; and
    • Regulatory and advisory costs associated with licensing decisions.
  • Benefits:
    • The contribution to the benefits of an ecologically-coherent network of MPAs;
    • The beneficial impacts of MPAs on the condition of the features that they have been designated to protect; and
    • The provision of ecosystem services (including benefits to activities and to wider society).

Estimation of Costs to Marine Activities

3.2.10 The extent to which cost impacts might be incurred by economic interests depends on the nature and scale of the potential interaction with MPA features and judgements on possible requirements for management measures. The assessment has been progressed through a number of steps, as follows:

1. Assessment of spatial overlap between MPA features and activities

2. Assessment of potential vulnerability of MPA features within possible MPAs to pressures associated with activities screened in on the basis of Step 1

3. Assessment of implications for activities giving rise to a potential vulnerability

4. Estimating the costs arising from management measures

3.2.11 Where appropriate, impacts to activities have been estimated in terms of changes to:

  • Costs faced by industries ( e.g. increased costs of EIA, additional survey costs, costs of mitigation measures, costs of delays and impacts on investor confidence);
  • Gross Value Added ( GVA [7] ) and employment as a result of restrictions on their activities ( e.g. changes to fishing grounds or development locations); and
  • The distribution of economic activity in affected communities.

3.2.12 Costs have been quantified where possible. For most activities the potential costs of designation reflect potential increases in operating costs ( e.g. additional costs of applying for licences, additional survey costs or additional mitigation costs). For some activities, the potential cost of designation is a loss or displacement of current (and future) economic activity. For commercial fisheries, for example, the potential cost of designation is a loss or displacement of current (and future) output, caused by spatial or temporal restrictions on fishing activities.

3.2.13 Consideration was also given to the potential for additional cost impacts to arise as a result of project delays or as a result of impacts on investor confidence. It is not possible to quantify the costs associated with potential delays during the consenting, licensing or permitting process or the impact of designation on investment decisions.

3.2.14 Further detail on the approach taken is available in Section and Appendix C of the socio-economic assessment report.

Estimation of Costs to Government

3.2.15 The Final Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Marine (Scotland) Bill identified various costs to the public sector associated with the designation of NC MPAs. Some of these costs have already been incurred or will have been incurred at the point at which decisions to designate individual sites are made (for example, site selection, survey costs, work to develop management options and consultation on site proposals). These are therefore 'sunk' costs and are not considered in this assessment. Additional costs that will be incurred as part of the designation process include the development and implementation of Marine Management Schemes and the preparation of Statutory Instruments for sites for which these are required. It is also possible that some costs could be associated with the development of guidance on voluntary measures for some sites.

3.2.16 Following designation, additional costs will be incurred in relation to on-going monitoring of the condition of features within designated sites and in enforcing management measures. Some costs may also be incurred in promoting public understanding of nature conservation MPAs.

3.2.17 Separately, regulatory bodies and their statutory advisors may incur additional costs associated with reviewing developer assessments of potential impacts to nature conservation features within MPAs as part of the licensing process. In addition, it is possible that public bodies such as The Crown Estate ( TCE) could experience impacts on its revenues or that Scottish Water may incur some additional costs.

Estimation of Benefits

3.2.18 The benefits have been identified based on information contained in the SNH and JNCC advice [4] , which provides an assessment of the contribution of different sites and features to an ecologically-coherent network of MPAs, in terms of the representation, replication, geographic range and variation, resilience and equivalent ecological value of proposed protected features and sites.

3.2.19 The biodiversity features of a MPA contribute to the delivery of a range of ecosystem services. Designation of the MPA and its subsequent management may improve the quantity and quality of the beneficial services provided, which may, in turn, increase their value (contribution to economic welfare). Impacts on the value of ecosystem services may occur as a result of the designation, management and/or achievement of the conservation objectives of the MPA.

3.2.20 The ecosystem services analysis provides a qualitative description of the potential changes in ecosystem service provision associated with the implementation of management measures to support the achievement of conservation objectives for individual features. The list of final ecosystem services that were considered is provided in Table 5.

Table 5. Ecosystem Services considered

General Ecosystem Service Categorisation Final Ecosystem Services
Provisioning Provision of fish and shellfish for human and non-human consumption
Cultural Recreation Research and education Non-use
Regulating Natural hazard protection Environmental resilience Gas and climate regulation Regulation of pollution

3.2.21 As part of the assessment the scope for monetising the benefits assessments has also been explored. This has made use of market value data where available and investigated value transfer to develop monetary values for the ecosystem services changes that cannot be valued directly through market prices. Value transfer has been considered in line with the best practice guidelines, including how to assess the robustness of value evidence transfer. This takes into account the relevance of the evidence in terms of the geography, the scale and timing of environmental change, the numbers and socio-economic groups of beneficiaries, and the decision-making context.

3.2.22 Most marine ecosystem services valuation studies have focused on developing methodologies and there are limited studies that value the benefits. Value transfer results are limited by the extent of this evidence base and uncertainty over ecosystem services impacts from MPAs. Limited quantitative data are available on marine ecosystem services changes. The assessment has therefore largely adopted a qualitative approach to assessing the potential benefits from designation of MPAs. On this basis, the combined ecosystem services benefits have been assessed by collating information from individual sites.

3.2.23 More detail on the approach to assessing benefits can be found in Section and Chapter 6 of the socio-economic assessment report.

Assessment of Social Impacts

3.2.24 The social impacts generated by the designation of possible MPAs will be strongly connected to the nature, scale and distribution of the economic impacts. Any change in employment, for example, generated as a result of designation can have significant social impacts ( e.g. on health, crime).

3.2.25 Economic and social impacts have been assessed through a distributional analysis. The distributional analysis focuses exclusively on the commercial fishing sector (and the fish processing sector) as this is the only sector where it has been possible to quantify the potential economic costs of designation (on output, GVA and employment). It includes impacts on specific locations (including regions, districts and ports) and on specific groups within Scotland's population (including, for example, different age groups, genders, minority groups, and parts of Scotland's income distribution).

3.2.26 The social impact analysis identifies the key areas of social impact that could potentially be affected by the potential economic costs (quantified and non-quantified) generated by designation and assesses the potential significance of these impacts. The key areas of social impact identified include:

  • Access to services;
  • Crime;
  • Culture and Heritage;
  • Education;
  • Employment;
  • Environment; and
  • Health.

3.2.27 The cumulative assessment within this work takes account both of the alternative options for designation and the combined impact of designating multiple sites at regional and national scales. For clarity of presentation, this cumulative assessment is integrated into all relevant sections where appropriate.

3.2.28 The starting point for such assessment has been to sum the estimated impacts for each NC possible MPA, taking account of possible alternative sites. For most sectors, the potential cost impacts are minor such that the combined impacts are likely to be additive. However, for sectors for which more substantial cost impacts have been identified, consideration has been given to the extent to which combined impacts may be more or less than the summed estimates and a qualitative description of the potential combined impacts is provided.

3.2.29 As noted in paragraph 2.9 and Table 3, some of the 33 possible MPAs comprise alternatives and it will not be necessary to designate all of the sites for which assessments have been prepared. The total costs and benefits of designating the suite of possible MPAs will therefore be less than the sum of the total for all sites. The impact of designating different combinations of site options is therefore also explored.

3.2.30 There remains a range of uncertainties and limitations with this analysis. The development and use of scenarios has sought to encompass some of these uncertainties, in particular:

  • Where the spatial extent of MPA features for which management measures might be required is uncertain (and thus the spatial area over which management measures might need to be applied, and over which costs and benefits might accrue) the scenarios have used different estimates of the spatial extent of those features;
  • Different assumptions have been used concerning the requirements for management measures within the scenarios to take account of uncertainty in the management requirements. This influences the scale of costs and benefits across the scenarios;
  • Different assumptions have been used within the scenarios concerning the extent to which management measures might already be necessary to deliver OSPAR/ BAP requirements. This also influences the scale of costs and benefits across the scenarios.

3.2.31 As a result of incorporating these uncertainties within the scenarios, significant variations in the range of potential costs and benefits have been identified, with estimates of costs typically varying by around two orders of magnitude between the lower and upper scenarios. These differences are particularly driven by assumptions on management measure requirements, but in some instances cost estimates are also sensitive to assumptions about whether management measures might already be necessary to meet OSPAR/ BAP requirements.

3.2.32 Other uncertainties and limitations include:

  • Uncertainties in the location and nature of future marine activity.
  • It has not been possible to provide quantified estimates of cost impacts for a number of potential management measures owing to a lack of data on the location of future activity or on the costs of management measures.
  • It has not been possible to estimate the cost of potential consequential impacts associated with designation, for example the costs of delays to consenting processes or impact on investor opportunity.
  • For commercial fisheries, the cost impacts have been based on GVA estimates of the value of potential landings foregone. These values will overestimate impacts to the commercial fisheries sector as they assume that all of the displaced effort will be lost, although in practice a proportion of the displaced effort will relocate and continue fishing in other areas.
  • There is an uncertainty in the multipliers used to estimate GVA, which are not site specific.
  • The main potential social impacts identified within the assessment relate to impacts on the commercial fishing sector. Given the uncertainties relating to commercial fishing impacts identified above, the social consequences of these impacts are also similarly uncertain.
  • The assessment of benefits has largely been limited to a qualitative assessment owing to the very limited evidence on expected changes in ecosystem services and on the value of those changes.
  • The assessment of benefits has also been hampered by the lack of knowledge of the baseline condition of many features in the MPAs, and the impact of management measures on features and ecosystem services within those sites.
  • This combined assessment poses particular challenges owing to the complexity of such assessments and the limited scientific understanding of impacts. Within this study, combined effects have generally been assessed as the sum of the individual impacts of on individual sites, but the potential for combined cost impacts has been recognised, particularly in relation to commercial fisheries and possibly also for offshore renewables and oil and gas under the upper scenario.