Publication - Consultation analysis

Planning Scotland's Seas: Scotland's National Marine Plan. Consultation Response Analysis Report

Published: 2 May 2014
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

Planning Scotland’s Seas: Scotland’s National Marine Plan was published for consultation in July 2013. Independent analysis of all written responses to the consultation has been undertaken and is presented in this report.

Planning Scotland's Seas: Scotland's National Marine Plan. Consultation Response Analysis Report


Chapter summary

  • Views were relatively polarised as to whether the NMP should specifically designate national significant ports/harbours. There was a degree of concern that some ports and harbours which are not designated will suffer; this in turn could have a knock on impact on more fragile communities or tourism.
  • There were requests to align any designations with those already designated as National Developments in NPF3 or to consider the land use planning system to ensure consistency.
  • Respondents requested cross-sectoral linking, with policy integration between land use planning, marine planning and transport strategies.

14.1 The Draft NMP noted that trade is essential to Scotland's economic prosperity and that ports and harbours play an essential role in the movement of cargo and growth of freight traffic. Ports and harbours also play a key role in providing support to industries such as fishing, oil and gas, tourism and the renewable energy sector.

14.2 The Draft NMP highlighted key issues for marine planning, outlined a number of marine planning policies and identified a number of factors that could impact on the future of ports, harbours and shipping.

The designation of significant ports/ harbours

14.3 Respondents were asked:

Question 28: Should the NMP specifically designate national significant ports/ harbours as described in Chapter 13: Marine Planning Policy Transport 2?

14.4 As shown in table 14.1, views were relatively polarised between those supporting the designation of significant ports and harbours and those who did not support this proposal. A few respondents gave a qualified agreement with this proposal and these are shown separately.

14.5 Support for this proposal came primarily from Local Authorities and energy organisations; opposition from organisations within the environment/ conservation sector, the fisheries sector and the public sector.

Table 14.1 Question 28: Should the NMP specifically designate national significant ports/harbours as described in Chapter 13: Marine Planning Policy Transport 2?

Respondent group Yes No Yes qualified Neither yes or no
Individuals (16) - - - 1
Academic / scientific (7) 1 1 - 1
Aquaculture (5) - - - -
Energy (12) 2 - 2 -
Environment / conservation (9) - 4 - -
Fisheries (13) 1 3 - -
Historic / Heritage (5) - - - -
Industry / transport (9) 1 1 2 2
Local Authority (15) 6 2 1 2
Local coastal partnership (7) 1 1 - -
Local group (5) - 1 - -
Other public sector (10) - 3 1 -
Recreation / Tourism (7) 1 - - -
Other (4) - - 1 -
Total (124) 13 16 7 6

14.6 Those in support of this proposal did not provide a lot by way of additional commentary, although a small number noted that the NMP needs to explain the reasons for the identification of nationally significant ports and harbours. One respondent suggested that there may need to be a decision to establish ports of refuge and the necessary International Maritime Organisation regulations should be considered. Another respondent noted the need to agree these significant ports and harbours in addition to those already identified as National Developments within the National Planning Framework.

14.7 Those not in support of this proposal tended to provide more detail in their answer, with a number voicing concern over ports and harbours that are not designated but which may play a key role in helping to sustain fragile communities or in the tourism sector. As one organisation in the fisheries sector noted:

"Any designation of ports and harbours should not deflect attention from smaller ports and harbours that provide invaluable services to our national industries like fishing, albeit on a smaller scale."

14.8 Even among some of the organisations offering qualified support for this proposal, there were concerns that ports and harbours not designated nationally significant would suffer. For example, an organisation proposal in the Industry/ Transport sector commented:

"There is merit in this approach although there is a risk that ports and harbours not deemed to be nationally significant could suffer as a result. In making decisions, the potential impacts of developments on these ports and harbours should still be considered individually when undertaking cost-benefit analysis."

14.9 Perhaps not surprisingly, there were also some calls for any draft list of nationally or regionally designated ports to be subject to consultation; and a small number of respondents suggested that Aberdeen or Fraserburgh should be included.

14.10 There were also a small number of requests for further information, with three respondents within the fisheries sector asking what designation would mean and entail in practical terms.

14.11 Some of the respondents who disagreed with this proposal noted that all ports should have the same level of protection, or that Policy Transport 2 is enough to protect the continued use and access to key ports without needing designation. Furthermore, there were a small number of comments that there are already existing designations and therefore it is unnecessary to designate sites under the NMP or that it could be confusing to have another set of designations.

14.12 A number of those respondents who disagreed with this proposal also made reference for the need to align any designations with those already designated as National Developments in the National Planning Framework for Scotland ( NPF3) or in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan (N- RIP). Allied to this, there were also a number of calls for better integration of land use and marine planning. For example, a public sector organisation commented:

"For consistency, it is important that the NMP references ports and harbours designated as National Developments in the third National Planning Framework for Scotland ( NPF3) and in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan (N- RIP). However given the clear policy support already allocated within documents, we do not consider it necessary to designate these sites under the NMP. Specific reference to existing designations should be sufficient."

14.13 Another respondent also noted the need to consider the land use planning system including Local Development Plans to ensure consistency.

14.14 There were also concerns over future developments if the NMP goes ahead with designated ports and harbours. Two energy organisations noted that while they were supportive of safeguarding national significant ports from development that could restrict access, they were concerned that this could impact negatively on offshore developments which could create substantial economic benefits to nearby ports. As a local group commented:

"Even if a harbour isn't being used significantly now it represents a significant resource which the development of offshore wind farms, or another future development not presently under consideration, may give the opportunity to grow the use of that harbour, and your proposed Policy 2 could limit that future development."

14.15 Another respondent who had given qualified support to this proposal suggested that Regional Marine Plans should identify regionally important ports and harbours and set out criteria against which proposed activities and developments should be evaluated.

Other comments on Chapter 13, Transport

14.16 The next two questions asked respondents:

Question 29: Do you have any comments on Transport, Chapter 13?

Question 30: Are there alternative planning policies that you think should be included in this chapter?

14.17 Forty-three respondents provided commentary to question 29. As the following table shows, comments were made by all sub-groups of respondent, with most comments being from Local Authorities and the industry/ transport and environmental/ conservation sectors.

Table 14.2 Question 29: Do you have any comments on Transport?

Respondent group
Individuals (16) 1
Academic / scientific (7) 2
Aquaculture (5) 2
Energy (12) 2
Environment / conservation (9) 5
Fisheries (13) 1
Historic / Heritage (5) 3
Industry / transport (9) 6
Local Authority (15) 8
Local coastal partnership (7) 2
Local group (5) 2
Other public sector (10) 5
Recreation / Tourism (7) 3
Other (4) 1
Total (124) 43

14.18 A significant number of those responding to this question welcomed some or all aspects of this chapter; some noting overall support, while some welcomed specific objectives and/ or planning policies. Comments included support for recognition of the importance of shipping activity, the development and improvement of ferry routes, the inclusion of renewables in the chapter and acknowledgement of the role of N- RIP.

14.19 The only theme attracting more than a single comment was the need to apply cross-sectoral linking, with partnership working across different organisations. In relation to this there were some requests for policy integration between land use planning, marine planning and transport strategies. There was some specific reference to integration between NMP, N- RIP and NPF3, with a request that this integration is also carried through to Regional Marine Plans.

14.20 One respondent in the industry/ transport sector suggested that the Scottish Government should be considering international legislation; for example, to be involved in the EU's work to introduce cleaner fuels and emissions control systems on ships, or the International Maritime Organisation's work to standardise shore power technology and facilitate the availability of liquefied natural gas ( LNG) fuel for ships visiting Scotland. There was also a suggestion that consideration should be given to the onshore implications of transport networks.

14.21 A small number of respondents noted concerns in relation to this chapter and these included:

  • Planning policies proposed could make certain applications more complex in that they are at odds with the aim of promoting development and supporting sustainable economic growth;
  • The need to ensure sustainability is considered throughout this chapter;
  • It is inappropriate for the chapter to suggest that ports will exercise their jurisdiction in accordance with the NMP and that there should be no interference with port and harbour authority powers and jurisdiction;
  • Whether statutory harbour authorities would have representation in a Marine Planning Partnership;
  • There are potential issues relating to anchorages used by large vessels and the scouring actions of anchors and cables on the seabed.

14.22 A small number of respondents noted the need to achieve a balance in the NMP; for example, to ensure biodiversity or to balance the needs of working harbours and ports against development of tourism activities.

Additional policies

14.23 A small number of respondents made suggestions for additional policies in this chapter. These are outlined below:

  • A policy for exploring the potential for new public transport routes transiting marine areas which could complement the existing network of ferry and air routes;
  • A policy that identifies the need for activities and developments associated with transport and shipping, including port and harbour construction, with the minimum of environmental impact;
  • Ecosystem objectives that consider inappropriate port, harbour and marina development, for example: 'To ensure that new sustainable port, harbour, marina and other transport infrastructure developments do not impact individually or cumulatively on vulnerable and important species and habitats. Where enhancement or restoration action is required, these should be ecologically appropriate";
  • A policy that covers the introduction of new sulphur limits in marine fuels in the North Sea Sulphur Emissions Control Area ( SECA);
  • A policy to require land use planners and decision makers to have regard to the need for the preservation and improvement of access to ports by road and rail;
  • A policy on the protection of future interests in the marine transport and merchant shipping sector, and a commitment to ensure that charts of navigational routes are maintained for access channels and important shipping routes, and policies designed to afford them protection from encroachment e.g. from cabling, offshore developments etc.;
  • A positive policy statement and positive supporting text for the development, redevelopment or expansion of ports and navigation channels i.e. a requirement for a new policy, such that the effect is a presumption in favour of development subject to certain criteria. We have this in land side plans, so feel it is wholly appropriate in the Marine Plan, even if there are caveats e.g. for the protection of conservation interests. The objectives within the transport section go some way to provide this positive planning context ( i.e. the objective the maintain and grow business in Scottish ports and to encourage the development of port infrastructure) but this is not mirrored within a specific 'positive' planning policy for the future development of ports, apart from in transport policy 4 where it benefits other marine sectors;
  • A policy promoting the importance of effective linking of ferry services with both public transport routes and active travel routes ( e.g. National Cycle and Walking Network) to help encourage sustainable travel. This could be supported by an objective at the start of the chapter on delivering modal shift by making interchanges between sea-based and land-based transport as easy as possible for travellers (including but not just tourists). This should include locating transport terminals close to each other and provision of adequate luggage and cycle storage at interchanges;
  • A policy addressing mooring and anchoring would be welcomed. This should include a need to manage associated environmental issues, such as seabed habitat damage from mooring chains;
  • (Either as extension to Transport 4 or separately): That where possible new port and harbour developments be approached with multiple use in mind. i.e. multi-use of docking facilities for cruise ship passengers and small boat traffic, inclusion of visitor pontoons in design, consideration given to dredging envelopes;
  • A specific policy/ reference to dredging and disposal of dredged material (for maintenance & commercial dredging), in particular, the associated environmental impacts;
  • An omission of reference to Marine Environment High Risk Areas ( MEHRAs), which need to have their own Marine Planning Policy. Suggested Transport 9: MEHRAs: When planning future transport infrastructure, Marine Environment High Risk Areas ( MEHRAs) should be re-assessed and any new recommendations arising applied;
  • An insertion into the NMP, that any new Marine Protected Areas which may be proposed in the future should not be sited within or in close proximity to port areas to avoid any planning conflicts which may arise. Planner development and investments are often put at risk by complicated or long planning processes;
  • Planning policies for harbour developments that are likely to serve these routes should take physical capacity requirements for larger vessels (including on-shore facilities) into account in future;
  • No need to include Policies 7 & 8 as they are only about obeying the law, which should be taken as read.