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

  • Of those providing a definitive response, all agreed this is the best approach to setting economic, social and marine ecosystem objectives relating to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change, albeit more of these responses were qualified than were not.
  • There were requests for compatibility between strategic objectives and sector specific objectives, and for the NMP to set out how prioritisation of conflicting objectives will be reconciled.
  • There were a number of references to the need for consistency between the NMP and UK and EU legislation.
  • While respondents were generally welcoming of the approach adopted in the Draft NMP, some noted that marine planning needs to examine the cumulative impact across sectors and that a sectoral approach works against this. Allied to this, there were some requests for better linkage across sectors.
  • A number of respondents focused on climate change, with requests for consistency to ensure each sector knows how to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
  • There were some concerns over timescales, implementation and review of the NMP, with some suggestions the NMP should be reviewed on the same cycle as the Draft Circular.
  • The issue of consultation was raised by some respondents, with requests for a higher level of consultation and engagement with all interested in the marine environment. There were also requests for a clarification of definitions used and an alignment of language with other forms of guidance and legislation.

4.1 The draft NMP notes that under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, marine plans must set out policies for and in connection with the sustainable development of the area to which the plan applies. The vision the Scottish Government has for the marine environment is "clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas, managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people". This chapter set out the National Marine Plan strategic objectives and its approach to policies.

Setting objectives

4.2 Respondents were asked:

Question 6: Chapter 3 sets out strategic objectives for the National Marine Plan and Chapters 6-16 set out sector specific marine objectives. Is this the best approach to setting economic, social and marine ecosystem objectives and objectives relating to the mitigation of and, adaptation to climate change?

4.3 As can be seen in the table below, 59 respondents provided an answer to this question, and some of their answers reiterated points made to earlier questions. While a significant number of respondents did not give a definitive 'yes' or 'no' response to this question, there was support from all those who did give a definitive answer.

Table 4.1 Question 6: Is this the best approach to setting economic, social and marine ecosystem objectives and objectives relating to the mitigation of and, adaptation to climate change?

Respondent group Yes Yes, qualified No Neither yes or no
Individuals (16) - 1 - 5
Academic / scientific (7) - - - 3
Aquaculture (5) - - - -
Energy (12) 2 5 - 1
Environment / conservation (9) 1 - - 6
Fisheries (13) 1 - - 5
Historic / Heritage (5) - 1 - -
Industry / transport (9) 2 - - -
Local Authority (15) 4 3 - 2
Local coastal partnership (7) - 4 - 1
Local group (5) - - - 1
Other public sector (10) 1 4 - -
Recreation / Tourism (7) - - - 3
Other (4) - 1 - 2
Total (124) 11 19 - 29

4.4 Many of these providing a positive response simply reiterated elements of this chapter that they were in agreement with.

4.5 Across other responses, a number of key themes emerged.

Compatibility between strategic objectives and sector specific objectives

4.6 There were requests from a few respondents for the Plan's strategic objectives to be compatible with sector specific objectives and policies, with one Local Authority asking for the NMP to provide guidance on priorities where needed. A respondent in the academic sector noted that the objectives are sector-driven and should be defined in accordance with wider policies and based on national objectives. Another organisation in the academic sector commented that sector policies lend themselves to a single sector approach rather than a more integrated approach.

4.7 Linked into this last point, a number of respondents focused on the need for the final NMP to set out how prioritisation of conflicting objectives will be reconciled to provide a clearer steer to planning partnerships; or noted that more consideration needs to be given to the incompatibilities and conflicts between sectors and associated sector specific and strategic objectives.

Consistency with legislation

4.8 There were a number of references for the need for the NMP to be in line with legislation. Many of these comments came from respondents within the environment/ conservation sector. A Local Authority and an 'other' organisation felt that the NMP should be structured in the same way as NPF3. Legislation that the NMP needs to align with included the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Some respondents also referred to the Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) Commissioned Report 341 and felt this should be referenced in the NMP. An organisation in the environment/ conservation sector suggested that as many objectives come from other strategic documents, it would be useful to summarise these to show how all fit together, perhaps as an additional graphic in the NMP.

The focus of the NMP

4.9 A number of respondents, while generally supportive of this chapter, cited ways in which they felt the focus of the Draft NMP should change. The key theme was a need for marine planning to look at the cumulative impact across sectors and not simply at each sector. For example, an energy company noted that the Draft NMP does not take into account the identification and management of cumulative effects. Allied to this point, three organisations in the environment/ conservation sector asked for more linkage across sectors. Another respondent in the environment/ conservation sector noted the need for the NMP to have a goal based on the two general duties set out in the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

4.10 There were one or two sector-specific comments with a few respondents, primarily in the fisheries sector, asking for more explanation of ecosystem services and how to evaluate these; and respondents within the energy sector noting concerns over GES11 and asking for further clarification to allow developers to understand the potential impacts of this policy.

4.11 Other issues raised by one or two respondents included:

  • The final NMP must be much clearer in setting out marine ecosystem and climate change objectives, for example, a greater emphasis on the importance and value of Scotland's marine natural heritage and resource, to be integrated and reflected throughout the plan;
  • The emphasis is on economic, social and marine ecosystem objectives and needs to be explicit on how the marine historic environment will be integrated into an ecosystem approach to achieve sustainable development;
  • Need more reference to adaptive management of the sectors and to highlight the need for precautionary approaches in the absence of necessary information or data;
  • Detail on how SG plan to approach adaptive management within the Draft NMP, and a request for this to be based on UK wide adaptive management;
  • The definition of sustainable economic growth is unclear, and a preference to use the term 'sustainable development';
  • Although tourism is defined as a growth sector by the SG, the Draft NMP has no strategic objectives that reflect this;
  • Cross cutting themes should be incorporated into the NMP; this fits better within an ecosystem-based system;
  • The chapter structure does not always reference the 3 pillar approach to marine conservation (species conservation, site protection, wider seas measures) i.e. this should be dealt with across all chapters and should be integrated as a thread through the general and sector specific policies;
  • Each sector plan should be linked to the marine ecosystem objectives to illustrate how the NMP will deliver them and the marine ecosystem objectives should underpin social and economic objectives;
  • The overarching aim should be the protection and enhancement of the Scottish Marine Area;
  • The sector specific objectives are written from the perspective of industry rather than how industry can help Scotland achieve sustainable development;
  • Need more focus on NMP's approach to engagement;
  • There is too much emphasis on economic development;
  • Need more consideration of coastal communities for example, more emphasis on the impact environmental designation has on economic prospects and resulting social changes within island communities;
  • The NMP needs more detail on who decision makers will be in the development of Regional Marine Plans.

Climate change

4.12 A number of respondents commented specifically on the climate change section of this chapter, with some comments that consistency is needed to ensure that each sector will know how to act to mitigate or adapt to climate change. This comment came from respondents within the environment/ conservation sector. There were also some requests for more policies that anticipate climate changes and provide guidance; with respondents in the fisheries sector also commenting that there needs to be flexibility built in to allow for adaptation to meet changing circumstances.

4.13 A public body commented that given the significance of climate change, strategic objectives should be developed to provide a framework for strategic level climate change policy implementation. They also said that the NMP focused more on climate change impacts on industry than industry's impacts on climate change.

4.14 There were comments from two respondents that the issue of coastal change is not adequately addressed and that there needs to be synergy between respective legislation for marine planning, flood risk management and adaptation to climate change.

Other comments on Chapters 1 to 3

4.15 The final question in this chapter went on to ask:

Question 7: Do you have any other comments on Chapters 1-3?

4.16 A total of 45 respondents offered commentary to this question; some referred back to answers they had given to previous questions, and many reiterated points made to earlier questions. A significant number suggested alternative wording at various points. The following paragraphs provide a brief summary of the key points emerging at this question.

4.17 A significant number of respondents reiterated their support for the Draft NMP or for various elements of it. The key theme to emerge, albeit only cited by a small number of respondents, was the frequency with which the NMP would be updated or simply pointing out that the Draft NMP does not give the time period covered by the plan. Three of these respondents suggested that the NMP should be reviewed every five years as per the Draft Circular.

4.18 One other element related to timing and cited by a respondent in the public sector was that the timescales to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status are very short.

4.19 Two Local Authorities referred to implementation of the NMP and said that when considering marine licence applications and renewable energy schemes, decision making should be transparent and information readily available to be shared with anyone wishing to access it; this could be in line with the land use planning system. Another Local Authority noted the importance of ensuring all relevant organisations are consulted on marine planning matters.

4.20 Another Local Authority also had some concerns over the set-up of MPPs because of the diversity of stakeholders that would be represented and their different interests, as well as the resources that would be needed for set up and ongoing management. A small number noted the need for consultation and engagement with all individuals and organisations with an interest in the marine environment.

4.21 Once again, there were suggestions that there needs to be alignment with other policies, legislation and guidance, including NPF3, the UK Marine Policy Statement ( MPS) and the Draft Planning Circular. As noted by a few respondents (two of which were Local Authorities), the relationship of the NMP to other plans, policies, guidance national legislation, EU directives and international conventions should be addressed more clearly and comprehensively. There were also requests for a flowchart outlining the hierarchy and relationship between all of these. A Local Authority commented that the Draft NMP is unclear on how the consenting process will be affected and provided the example of Pentland Firth Orkney Waters pilot where there are already seven planning documents in force.

4.22 A public sector body asked for a link to research for marine planning and to reference the Scottish Marine Science Strategy, and also cross-reference to the policy GEN10. They also noted the need for the NMP to explicitly identify links to Scottish Government policy for conservation of biodiversity, particularly the three pillar approach. An environment/ conservation organisation asked for the NMP to "refer to the need of development or activities to actively adopt mitigation actions, and identify and then secure opportunities to enhance biodiversity, including recovery and / or enhancement of degraded habitats or species populations".

4.23 There were requests for clarification of definitions in earlier chapters and a public sector organisation commented that the plan would benefit from a glossary or list of definitions of commonly used terms. Some other respondents also asked for more clarity in some of the definitions and/ or alignment of wording, terminology, approach and objectives with other forms of guidance, legislation and so on.

4.24 Once again, reference was also made to a need for more cohesion between the vision, objectives and policies of the NMP.

4.25 Three respondents, two in the fisheries sector and a local coastal partnership asked for further consideration to be given as to how the impacts of vessel activities will fall within the overall NMP or regional marine plan policies and objectives, and how to integrate these two systems. A small number of energy organisations suggested that adaptive management and monitoring should be achieved through a robust approach to EIA and consenting.