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
ISBN:
9781784124182

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
5 GENERAL POLICIES

5 GENERAL POLICIES

Question 8 Summary

  • The policies in Chapter 4 of the National Marine Plan attracted broad welcome from respondents; in particular respondents supported the presumption in favour of sustainable development and use. There were a number of suggestions for changes to these policies; respondents wanted to see more detail added.
  • There were comments that the policies lack detail and that many points are in need of clarification. Clear definitions throughout were important to ensure there is no room for interpretation as to their meaning.
  • Respondents saw a lack of guidance or detail on how the policies would be put into practice. Stronger guidance in general and more direct policy wording were also seen as necessary.

5.1 The policies are grouped under the following headings:

  • General;
  • Engagement;
  • Using sound evidence;
  • Good Environmental Status;
  • Nature conservation, biodiversity, and geodiversity;
  • Historic Environment;
  • Landscape/seascape;
  • Air Quality;
  • Noise;
  • Coastal processes and flooding;
  • Water quality and resource;
  • Climate change.

Appropriateness

Question 8 asked:

  • Are the general policies in Chapter 4 appropriate to ensure an approach of sustainable development and use of the marine area?
  • Are there alternative policies that you think should be included?
  • Are the policies on integration with other planning systems appropriate?
  • A draft circular on the integration with land use planning has also been published - would further guidance be useful?

5.2 Seventy-seven respondents commented on this question; some made general comments while others commented on each of the policies in turn. The following table shows the respondents who replied to Question 8.

Table 5.1: Question 8: Questions on the policies in Chapter 4

Respondent group Number commenting
Individuals (16) 4
Academic / scientific (7) 4
Aquaculture (5) 4
Energy (12) 11
Environment / conservation (9) 7
Fisheries (13) 4
Historic / Heritage (5) 4
Industry / transport (9) 5
Local Authority (15) 11
Local coastal partnership (7) 5
Local group (5) 2
Other public sector (10) 7
Recreation / Tourism (7) 6
Other (4) 3
Total (124) 77

5.3 Several of the environment/ conservation respondents made the same or similar comments throughout the questions in this section. There were also similarities between comments made by some of the fisheries respondents.

5.4 Many of the points made here have already been seen in relation to earlier questions. A significant number of respondents suggested alternative wording at various points through these chapters and these have been provided in a separate document.

General comments

5.5 There were a number of general comments on the policies and on the format of this chapter.

5.6 Several respondents stated that, in general, they support or welcome the policies.

Format

5.7 Several respondents, from the 'other' and environment/ conservation group, made similar comments: "This section must be more explicit in stating that all text is planning policy. Policy text within the boxes will automatically be considered the more prevalent text and thus potentially misguide users of the Plan."

Other general comments

5.8 There was strong welcome for the presumption in favour of sustainable development, although some respondents asked for a clear definition of both 'presumption in favour' and of 'sustainable development'.

5.9 Respondents felt the phrase 'take into account' was not strong enough and that the language used should be more directive.

5.10 There were comments that the policies lack detail and that many points are in need of clarification. Clear definitions throughout were important to ensure there is no room for interpretation as to their meaning.

5.11 Respondents saw a lack of guidance or detail on how the policies would be put into practice. Stronger guidance in general and more direct policy wording were also seen as necessary.

5.12 However, a small number commented that there is too much detail and suggested that the policies should be streamlined. A public sector respondent suggested having development policies and procedure policies.

5.13 The need for guidance on the interaction between various policies and legislation was particularly important to respondents; a number of policies were seen as redundant as they are already covered by legislative requirements. The need for the policies to be consistent with, and to have adequate links with, other policies, guidance and legislation, and with the Environmental Impact Assessment process, was also mentioned.

5.14 Respondents wanted to see detail on integration of the NMP with neighbouring plans and with land use planning. Respondents asked for more explanation on the principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in relation to integration between marine and land use planning.

5.15 Respondents asked if areas similar to 'areas for co-ordinated action' within the National Planning Framework could be included in the NMP. These could be used, in particular, to "integrate the fisheries management and general marine management plans for key fisheries areas" (fisheries).

5.16 The need for clarity, and an indication of priority, where there is any tension between other plans and policies will also be required.

5.17 There was a call for the policies to make clear that they apply to developers as well as marine planners and decision-makers. There was also a request to clarify within the policies whether the terms 'planning authorities' and 'planners' apply to both marine and land use planning authorities and planners.

5.18 Guidance was sought on how marine spatial plans will be developed in relation to the NMP and on how the NMP will relate to land use Local Development Plans.

5.19 A Local Authority wanted to see "greater clarity around the issue of deemed planning permission for the onshore elements of offshore generation and the role of the land use development plan in that process".

5.20 There was some concern amongst the fishing sector that the policies do not offer adequate protection to legitimate fishing activity. There were also calls for consideration of the economic impact of activities or developments on other sectors, for example the impact of offshore renewable development on shipping.

5.21 The following paragraphs outline the main themes from responses in relation to each of the policies.

General Policies

5.22 Several respondents commented on General Policies 1, 2 and 3, with a number saying that there is duplication across these and that they could be combined into a single policy.

5.23 A number of responses contained the same comments (from the 'other' and environment/ conservation groups) on the need for the first three policies to be reviewed and amended to reflect "the five guiding principles of sustainable development [1] as set out in the UK's shared framework for sustainable development". These respondents said that at present:

  • The policies contravene the duty of the Marine (Scotland) Act;
  • The current approach is contrary to achieving sustainable development as it suggests support for activities which achieve economic and social objectives over environmental objectives.

5.24 These respondents recommended that "reference is made to the current draft Scottish Planning Policy document as it presents appropriate wording that could be used in this General Policy section (see paragraphs 24 and 25, Page 8 of the SPP)." This group also commented that the Draft NMP "omits a vital reference to any effort to work within marine environmental limits".

5.25 Respondents wanted to see parity between policies that support developments and activities offering social and economic benefits and those that only look for assurance that the law will not be broken.

General Policies - specific comments

GEN 1: There is a presumption in favour of sustainable development and use of the marine environment when consistent with the policies and objectives of this Plan.

5.26 Several respondents said that they support or agree with this general policy; others said that they welcome the presumption, or commented on its importance.

5.27 There were a number of comments on the need for a definition of sustainable development and use, with a Local Authority commenting: "Various definitions of sustainable development are set out in the Draft NMP (pages 14 and 19), the appropriate definition should be included within GEN 1." Another Local Authority also wanted to see definitions and commented that the terms sustainable development and sustainable economic growth are interchanged within the Draft NMP.

5.28 One public sector respondent commented on the need for the policies to recognise that support and service sectors need to be able to operate in a sustainable manner within the marine environment, while an individual commented that 'sustainable' appears to apply to anything that fits Scottish Government objectives, even if this is not recognised by others.

5.29 A Local Authority suggested that the policy should also state that a presumption in favour of sustainable development and use requires consistency with all of the policies and objectives in the NMP. An environment/ conservation respondent suggested that the precautionary principle should apply in any cases where the sustainability status of an activity is not clear.

5.30 Commenting that the policy identifies key growth areas as oil, gas and renewables, an energy respondent wanted to see carbon capture and storage added to this list.

5.31 Recreation/ tourism respondents wanted to see acknowledgement that sport and recreation is integral to tourism.

GEN 2: Sustainable developments and marine activities which provide economic benefit to Scottish communities are encouraged when consistent with the objectives and policies of the Plan.

5.32 There was support for this policy and for the recognition of the importance of economic benefits to Scottish communities. There were requests for clarification and definition of sustainable development and of communities.

5.33 One Local Authority felt that the policy should highlight that the objectives would be best achieved through Regional Marine Plans; others from this group said the role of Regional Marine Plans "in balancing local community and national level benefits/impacts should be explained and supported within this policy".

5.34 An academic/scientific felt this and GEN 3 unnecessary as "It detracts from building a definitive approach to sustainable development to draw distinction between 'sustainable developments' and activities which provide economic or social benefits".

GEN 3: Sustainable developments and marine activities which provide social benefits are encouraged when consistent with the objectives and policies of the Plan.

5.35 There was broad welcome for this policy and for the recognition given to social benefits.

5.36 A public sector respondent wanted to see guidance on interpretation of the policy, especially in respect of appropriateness and proportionality in taking account of social benefits of development.

5.37 Respondents from the historic/ heritage group said this policy fails to identify social benefits associated with the marine environment and the marine historic environment.

5.38 Local Authorities felt there should be more focus on, or a separate policy for, assessing the impact of development on existing activities and the well-being of local communities.

GEN 4: Community impact - Government, planning authorities and stakeholders should consider the need for Scenario Mapping where there is potential for development to impact on communities.

5.39 There was some support for this policy but several respondents said that it is unclear or that it is not actually a policy.

5.40 There were comments that developments likely to cause alteration to socio-economic conditions would require an Environmental Impact Assessment and that therefore the policy is not required.

5.41 Respondents commented that there is no equivalent policy in the Scottish Planning Policy and suggested that the detail from GEN 4 would fit better within GEN 9 on Engagement.

5.42 There were requests for a definition of, and guidance on, Scenario Mapping and for a definition of 'community'. Respondents asked that other communities, such as communities of interest, should be included along with communities of place.

GEN 5: Development proposals which enable multiple uses of marine space are encouraged where possible in planning and decision making processes, when consistent with policies and objectives of the Plan.

5.43 Again, there was broad welcome for this policy but several respondents asked for clarification or guidance on some issues. Several respondents wanted to see detail on responsibilities; who would be responsible for deciding if an activity is identified for preferential use? More clarity in respect of the reference to Regional Marine Plans was also requested.

5.44 A number of respondents felt that multiple use may not be possible in some cases. For example, an environment/ conservation respondent commented: "Dredging and trawling for instance are incompatible with many conservation and restoration objectives and should certainly not be allowed in marine protected areas." This respondent felt such activities should not be allowed in in-shore waters; they felt creeling and scallop diving would be more suitable in these waters. An industry/ transport respondent felt that shipping and leisure activities might not be compatible.

5.45 Energy respondents, in particular, would like to see more detail as to how this policy would work in practice; one said they were unable to support co-location without knowing the full implications including economic activities and conservation objectives; others asked for detail on conflict resolution.

5.46 Others from this group asked for more discussion on activities that could co-locate, looking at planning and regulation, streamlining of infrastructure and an economic assessment of the benefits of co-location. These respondents felt that it may be necessary to prioritise activities according to high-level policies and objectives and thought it would be useful for the NMP to reference national policies and objectives.

5.47 Local Authority respondents felt that 'co-location' and 'synergistic use' would be a more appropriate phrase than 'multiple use', or that these should be referred to.

5.48 A number of respondents from the environment/ conservation group asked for clear guidance on which activities might be compatible with which designation and stressed the importance of ensuring compatible projects and activities are sited in the least sensitive areas. These respondents also suggested that the policy should consider development proposals within designated natural heritage sites.

5.49 Respondents also commented on the need for the NMP to identify the method decision-makers should use to balance competing interests; this method should take social, environmental and economic attributes into account. Some respondents stressed the need for representation for all sectors to be included in the decision-making process.

5.50 There was a request, from an aquaculture organisation, for further research in relation to multiple use.

5.51 A public sector respondent suggested a separate general policy that "avoids one activity unreasonably jeopardising other uses/interests".

5.52 Another from this group noted that the Marine Policy Statement encourages co-existence rather than co-location and added "We see that there is significantly more opportunity to facilitate the co-existence of activities as it allows for temporal factors to be considered more easily".

5.53 Other suggestions from this group included: "a comprehensive masterplan led approach is required for the long term planning of those areas which are considered to be appropriate for multiple uses and co-located development".

GEN 6: Through integration of marine and land use development plans, planning authorities should seek to facilitate appropriate access to the shore and sea and support marine and land based components required by development and activities.

5.54 This policy was supported by many respondents; however, there were many queries, suggestions and requests. These mainly related to the need for more detail and included:

  • A definition of appropriate access was requested;
  • The policy should contain reference to maintaining access
  • The need for detail on the duties and powers of planning authorities within the marine planning system; and associated resource implications;
  • Details on partnership working between marine and land use planning authorities and with the wide range of agencies and organisations involved;
  • Detail on how the policy will apply to Marine Planning Partnerships;
  • The need for more explicit reference to developer-led proposals;
  • The words 'where these are sustainable' should be added to the end of the sentence; Detail on how conflict between marine and land use plans will be dealt with;
  • Detail on how any differences between the marine and land use planning systems will be dealt with and a clear statement on prioritisation between the two systems;
  • Detail on how timeframes will be aligned so that one element does not delay the other;
  • "The policy must include criteria for handling differences or conflicting statements within the land use and marine plans, or between different planning systems, and should clearly indicate which plan takes priority where the two systems overlap" (environment/ conservation).

5.55 There were several comments on the wording 'appropriate access', with requests for: a requirement to consider environmental impacts when facilitating appropriate access to the shore and sea; for the policy to ensure a balance between access and competing activity or development; and the need for a definition of 'appropriate access'.

5.56 Several fisheries respondents wanted to see "clearer reference to the principles contained in Fisheries Policy 6. i.e. that land use planners (and not just ports) should engage with key stakeholders regarding any proposed changes in existing infrastructure that might affect the viability of dependant fishing fleets, and that there should be a presumption in favour of maintaining necessary infrastructure".

5.57 There was some concern, particularly from energy respondents, that the policy covers access requirements and infrastructure components straddling marine and onshore and there was a suggestion that these be dealt with in separate policies.

5.58 An energy respondent felt there should be "a requirement on Local Authorities to develop policies which facilitate appropriate access to the shoreline for development integral to projects with a significant marine component".

5.59 Recreation/ tourism respondents wanted to see "specific reference to Scotland's access rights in recognition of these rights and the range of activities they include that will take access to and within coastal areas".

GEN 7: Integration and compliance with other statutory plans, such as River Basin Management Plans, should also be undertaken; planners should take into account the objectives and policies of relevant non statutory plans where appropriate to do so. <applies to inshore waters only>

5.60 A small number simply voiced support for this policy.

5.61 A Local Authority wanted to see a section on compliance and integration with other statutory plans within the National Marine Plan; this policy should then reference this section. Other Local Authorities asked for clarity as to which plans need to comply and integrate with others.

5.62 In relation to non-statutory plans, a Local Authority felt this requirement would aid policy development while aquaculture respondents felt it should only be required for non-statutory plans that have gone through proper statutory processes.

5.63 Aquaculture respondents were concerned about multiplicity, with developers having to reference many different documents and plans.

5.64 The example of River Basin Management Plans would be better replaced by other examples; several respondents suggested that Strategic Development Plans and Local Development Plans would be more appropriate. Other respondents suggested that all considerations should be listed, perhaps in an appendix. One public sector respondent welcomed the policy setting out the integrated approach with River Basin Management Plans.

5.65 An environment/ conservation respondent said that marine planning should aim to achieve Good Environmental Status under the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

5.66 An energy respondent asked whether the reference to 'planners' should be to planning authorities and another from this group felt examples of the types of non-statutory plan that are being referred to would be beneficial.

GEN 8: All marine interests will be treated with fairness and transparency when decisions are being made in the marine environment.

5.67 While several respondents voiced support for this policy, others said that it seems more of a statement of intent than a policy.

5.68 There were suggestions that this policy would be better placed elsewhere in the document, for example as part of GEN 1 or within the Approach to Policies section.

5.69 A respondent from the other group pointed out that this policy contains the first mention of long-term public interest; they felt this concept should be introduced earlier in the National Marine Plan.

5.70 While an environment/ conservation respondent commented on the importance of stakeholder involvement on an equal basis, a Local Authority wanted to see the section extended to explain how fairness and transparency in decision-making will be achieved and how all interests can participate equally.

5.71 A Local Authority called for more transparency in the marine licensing process similar to the land use planning system. Another Local Authority called for the policy to promote joined-up decision-making, local accountability, transparency and subsidiarity.

Policies - Engagement

GEN 9: Early and effective engagement should be undertaken with the general public and all interested stakeholders in planning and consenting processes.

5.72 Several respondents voiced strong support for this policy. However, a public sector respondent suggested that it is not necessary as these requirements are already statutory requirements, while another suggested reference to, or adoption of, land use regulations on "when pre-application community consultation should take place and when a proposal should be advertised".

5.73 An aquaculture respondent wanted clarity as to who the policy is aimed at: developers or plan makers or decision takers. A local group asked how effective engagement will be judged and a respondent from the other group asked for clarification on the level of engagement and consultation.

5.74 An environment/ conservation respondent commented on the need for user-friendly, relevant and engaging consultation and for all views to be heeded. An energy respondent commented that some interested parties may be constrained in contributing due to lack of resources or capacity.

5.75 Other areas in need of clarification were identified and these included: timeframes for engagement; what is meant by early and effective engagement and how this should take place; and how 'all interested stakeholders' will be defined or identified. There was also a query, from a respondent from the 'other' group, as to how the policy would work in practice. A public sector respondent asked for clarity over their own specific duties and resource requirements.

Policies - Using sound evidence

GEN 10: Decision making in the marine environment will be based on a sound evidence base as far as possible. Where evidence is inconclusive, reasonable efforts should be made to fill evidence gaps. Decision makers may also need to apply precaution within an overall risk based approach.

5.76 Several respondents agreed or accepted the need for the precautionary principle; some felt the reference could be stronger, saying 'should' rather than 'may' apply precaution. A recreation/ tourism respondent said that the definition given for the precautionary principle is different to that used in the Scottish Planning Policy and also appears different to the outline on page 16 of the National Marine Plan itself.

5.77 Several respondents urged caution where evidence is inconclusive. An energy respondent asked that policies take account of cost implications and potential delays in development timelines and a public sector respondent said the precautionary principle should not be overly relied upon.

5.78 While a small number of respondents called for clarification on who will be responsible for provision of data to fill evidence gaps, several others said they did not see 'gap filling' as appropriate and felt that the onus should be on developers to produce all necessary evidence.

5.79 The proposed adaptive management approach was supported. However respondents asked for more detail as to how this would be managed.

5.80 There were suggestions that any data collected should be held centrally and made available widely; respondents saw an opportunity to promote evidence databases such as National Marine Plan interactive and Marine Scotland interactive. There was also a suggestion, from a respondent from the 'other' group, that there should be mention of a shared land use and marine planning evidence base "avoiding duplication and encouraging consistency between both systems".

5.81 There were requests for a commitment by the Scottish Government to support and facilitate environmental data collation, monitoring and research. Respondents wanted to see more emphasis on the role of research and monitoring in improving the evidence base for decision-making. Some suggested data collection and associated responsibilities and processes could be placed in a separate policy.

5.82 Local Authority respondents asked for details to be included on what sort of data or information can be used and also for details on quality assurance, storage and accessibility of data.

5.83 There were requests to include reference to historic information alongside social, economic and environmental information.

Policies - Good Environmental Status

GEN 11: Development in, and use of, the marine environment must take account of the achievement or maintenance of Good Environmental Status ( GES) for UK waters as it develops under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

5.84 The policy was supported by several respondents, although there were calls for the accompanying text to make clear that mitigation actions should be proportionate and ecologically appropriate.

5.85 There were also calls for the policy to reference the Water Framework Directive.

5.86 There were some suggestions that the wording 'take account of' should be strengthened.

5.87 A public sector respondent said there is no need for this policy as a legislative requirement already exists in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and that this policy should be deleted.

5.88 Another public sector respondent suggested that guidance on achievement of GES while enabling sustainable economic growth might be useful.

5.89 There were concerns as to how local plans and regional objectives could be reconciled.

5.90 A Local Authority pointed out that "it is a requirement for new developments not to result in a lowering of the environmental status of a water body as indicated by policy GEN 18."

Policies - Nature conservation, biodiversity, and geodiversity

GEN 12: Marine planning and decision-making authorities should ensure that development and use of the marine environment complies with legal requirements for protected areas and protected species and does not result in a significant adverse effect on the national conservation status of other habitats or populations of species of conservation concern.

5.91 There were concerns that the wording implies that habitats or species which are not of conservation concern do not have to be considered.

5.92 Several respondents asked whether the habitats and species mentioned were the Priority Marine Features; if so this should be stated and identification, definition, processes for registration and monitoring areas of Priority Marine Features included.

5.93 A public sector respondent said the term 'national conservation status' was not familiar.

5.94 While there was a comment that this policy is not required as legislation already provides this protection, others commented that the policy neglects the Scottish Government's duty to enhance Scotland's seas where the Marine Atlas indicates this is necessary. An environment/ conservation respondent felt that the word 'significant' should be removed as this could be used as an opt-out for damaging activities.

5.95 There were suggestions that the policy should be rewritten to provide more clarity and robustness in relation to legislation and policy.

5.96 Respondents wanted to see clear guidance for planners and developers on relevant policy and legislation and examples of what measures or considerations will be required.

5.97 The unboxed text was described as muddled by a public sector respondent who suggested that this be improved.

5.98 An industry/ transport respondent raised some concerns: that the wording of this policy could stifle economic activity as it does not allow for balancing conservation against social and economic benefit; and that the policy affects developments that are regulated by land use planning. This means developers will have to deal with both marine and land use planning processes.

5.99 Respondents pointed out that geodiversity features in the heading for this policy but is not addressed in any text; one environment/ conservation respondent included a detailed description of geodiversity features and asked for geodiversity to be included within this policy.

5.100 A public sector respondent wanted to see "text stating the importance of ecosystem services and natural capital in delivering environmental, economic, social and climate change objectives of the NMP".

5.101 This policy caused concern to energy respondents as it would impact areas within plans that have already gone through Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) and been agreed. They asked how existing developments will be protected from changes to policy.

Policies - Historic Environment

GEN 13: Marine planning and decision making authorities should aim to protect and, where appropriate enhance, heritage assets in a manner proportionate to their significance when progressing development and use of the marine environment.

5.102 While a small number simply voiced support for this policy, there were several lengthy and detailed comments on GEN 13 and these are summarised in the following paragraphs. There was a feeling that the policy lacks detail.

5.103 Many respondents commented on the importance of the marine historic environment and its protection; some felt more should be made within the policy text of the contribution it makes to well-being, place-making, community cohesion, sustainable recreation and tourism.

5.104 An energy respondent felt there was a difference between the wording of the policy and other policy and legislation such as the Scottish Historic Environment Policy.

5.105 Historic/ heritage respondents were concerned that the policy does not give as much protection as the UK Marine Planning Statement. In addition, these respondents felt that the policy is limited in the protection that it offers due to some of the wording (for example "the need for an assessment of significance is expressed only in respect of development and marine licensable activities, not the full range of decision making to which the NMP applies"). In addition, while the policy refers to the need for developers to adopt protocols for archaeological discoveries, there is no mention of other work, such as prior investigations, that should be undertaken.

5.106 In relation to the mention of an archaeological protocol, an energy and a public sector respondent commented on the Wessex archaeological protocol (Crown Estates 2010 publication Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries: Offshore Renewables Projects); the energy respondent currently uses this publication.

5.107 One historic/ heritage respondent asked for clarity over who the 'marine decision-making authorities' will be and on the role of Local Authorities.

5.108 Other respondents from this group were concerned that the word 'aim' weakens the policy and that it is inconsistent with the draft Scottish Planning Policy (2013); they commented that other parts of the policy text are also inconsistent with the current and draft Scottish Planning Policy. These respondents commented on several other parts of the policy:

  • Concern over the use of the word 'positively' in the 4th line of page 31 which could indicate the need for heritage assets to have undergone a formal qualification process.
  • That the policy refers only to identified heritage assets and not those still to be discovered.
  • In relation to archiving information, there should be clear support for the bodies involved and that "The Plan should identify the records in question and make clear the need to consult them".

5.109 Other respondents felt that the wording of the policy is not as strong as for some other areas and so affords the marine historic environment less protection than is afforded to, for example, seascape.

5.110 There were comments that only a small part of marine heritage has been recorded; there were requests for maps and information on both designated and undesignated sites. Work to develop an evidence-base encompassing all of the marine historic environment is needed; this is especially the case for offshore waters.

5.111 There was a comment that the policy refers to enhancement of heritage assets while its text refers to enhancement only in relation to knowledge; this energy respondent suggested 'enhance' should be removed from the shaded box.

5.112 A public sector respondent felt that the last three paragraphs of text read as partly aspirational and lack clarity.

5.113 Several respondents commented that the policy should refer to the new body, Historic Environment Scotland.

Policies - Landscape/seascape

GEN 14: Marine planning and decision making authorities should ensure that development and use of the marine environment take seascape, landscape and visual impacts into account.

5.114 There was broad support for this policy.

5.115 An energy respondent felt the policy should only apply to developments within a set distance of the coast. This respondent also commented on the 'wild land' mapping: "the proposals for wild land as currently mapped, in relation to planning, remain in draft until NPF3 and SPP are agreed in 2014".

5.116 Local Authorities welcomed the policy but felt that there should be acknowledgement of the importance of regional and local landscape designations.

5.117 A public sector respondent asked for further clarification of the term 'seascape views'.

5.118 Respondents wanted to see the policy use stronger language than 'into account'.

5.119 Recreation/ tourism respondents felt that the policy should be amended to include other communities, such as communities of interest; they saw the words local and coastal as too narrow. One of these respondents also asked for clarification over the use of the word sustainable in this policy and suggested "Examples could be given of impacts of activities that would lead them not to be consented because they would not be considered sustainable".

Policies - Air Quality

GEN 15: Marine planning and decision making authorities should consider air quality issues, especially relevant statutory air quality limits, when progressing development and use of the marine environment.

5.120 Several respondents simply voiced support for this policy. Only a small number commented in any detail and these included an industry/ transport respondent who suggested planning and decision-making in relation to air quality needs to take UK, EU and other international regulation into account.

5.121 A public sector respondent commented on the importance of balancing environmental considerations and wider economic and social benefits. Another from this group suggested GEN 15 be amended to say: "Development in, and use of the marine environment, should not result in the deterioration of air quality and should not breach statutory air quality limits."

5.122 Comments from an academic / scientific respondent focussed on the need to include Life Cycle Analysis "to demonstrate that air emissions (of the activity and of those in producing material elements, transport, etc.) and consequent atmospheric effects should be considered in an integrated way with Air Quality". They mentioned that atmospheric emissions are not effectively managed at present and wanted to see the policy emphasise full assessment of atmospheric impacts rather than simply referring to the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

Policies - Noise

GEN 16: Marine planning and decision making authorities should consider man-made noise sources, especially their effects on sensitive species, in the marine area, when progressing development and use of the marine environment.

5.123 There were a number of suggestions for amendments to this policy and requests for clarification over terms such as 'sensitive species'.

5.124 A public sector respondent commented on the importance of balancing environmental considerations with wider economic and social benefits.

5.125 Commenting on the need to discuss how the policy relates to achieving good environmental status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, an academic/ scientific respondent said; "Noise is an important aspect for which regional, cross-sectoral management is warranted and this general policy could be more helpful in this regard." This respondent also felt that the policy is too specific, aimed only at the renewables sector, and should be more general.

5.126 This respondent also suggested the policy could state that activities producing noise should be managed under legislation such as European Protected Species ( EPS) licensing. Commenting on EPS legislation, a public sector respondent said that the references to this legislation 'for certain species deliberate disturbance is prohibited' is both incorrect and incomplete.

5.127 Several respondents, particularly from the energy group, expressed their concern over the inclusion of specific measures such as bubble curtains and asked for clarification as to whether this is in addition to measures set out in licences. There were also comments that specific measures should not be included as other more suitable measures may be developed.

5.128 Fisheries respondents and one Local Coastal Partnership said that there is also a need to take account of impacts on priority species from electromagnetic fields from sub-sea power cables; the fisheries respondents also commented on the impact of warming of the seabed caused by combustion of deep underground coal seams.

5.129 The Local Coastal Partnership respondent described the word 'consider' as inadequate; recent legislation makes it an offence to deliberately or recklessly disturb species.

5.130 Several respondents commented that the policy should include reference to the cumulative impacts of noise. There was also a comment, from a Local Authority, on the need to consider noise levels against the levels of background noise.

5.131 Environment/ conservation respondents asked that the word 'effective' be added so that the policy reads 'effective mitigation measures being adopted'. These respondents also wanted to see "acknowledgement that monitoring can only provide protection where the data and results are timeously fed into an adaptive management system".

5.132 There was also a comment that there is a lack of knowledge about the sensitivity to noise of different species and that the policy should therefore take a risk-based approach to reflect this.

Policies - Coastal processes and flooding

GEN 17: Developments and activities in the marine environment should be resilient to coastal change and flooding, and not adversely impact coastal processes.

5.133 A small number simply voiced support for this policy.

5.134 An energy respondent suggested that the word 'significant' should be added "to define the adverse change"; others from this group suggested it could be changed to 'unacceptable adverse impacts'.

5.135 There were suggestions, from the environment/ conservation group, that the positive contribution that natural and 'living' defences such as kelp forest be recognised . Another wanted to see the text 'Sustainable solutions to flood management and coastal defence' place an emphasis on solutions that use natural geomorphological processes.

5.136 A Local Authority wanted to see a definition of 'costal infrastructure' and guidance on reclamation of coastal land for development and on what type of development is acceptable. This respondent queried the wording 'resilient to coastal change and flooding' as they felt this could only be achieved through the construction of heavy defences. A public sector respondent suggested the policy could include the need for developments not to increase flood risk and also to include "reference to flood management and coastal defence to facilitate adaptation to climate change and improving resilience".

5.137 Respondents asked for clarification on which emissions scenario is being referred to.

5.138 Other comments included:

  • That the policy contains too much background and detail and should be streamlined;
  • Requests to include a clearer link to the protective role of Scotland's geodiversity;
  • That the guidance in paragraph 3 understates the significance of geomorphological changes that result from coastal activities or developments
  • To use soft or non-engineered solutions at the start of paragraph 5;
  • That the final paragraph should be more ambitious; there is a need to "reappraise the strengths and vulnerability of our coast to erosion and flooding and set priorities to manage these" (public sector);
  • The need for more detail on the policy in relation to sediment shift;
  • The need for recognition of the potential impact of development on wind, waves and currents.

Policies - Water quality and resource

GEN 18: Developments and activities should not result in a deterioration of the quality of waters to which the Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive or other related directives apply.

5.139 Several respondents simply voiced support for this policy.

5.140 A public sector respondent saw no need for GEN 18 as it is already covered by legislation. Others queried why this policy references the Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive directly when others, for example GEN 11, do not. They asked for consistency in this regard.

5.141 Respondents from the public sector, environment/ conservation organisations and a local coastal partnership wanted to see an enhanced aspect within this policy; to restore or improve conditions rather than simply avoiding deterioration.

5.142 Several environment/ conservation respondents wanted to see the wording strengthened to include reference to mitigation against "impacts on the quality of designated bathing and shellfish waters from any proposed development".

5.143 Respondents from the recreation/ tourism group wanted to see areas of water used for immersion sports to be included; these do not always correlate with bathing waters.

5.144 There were requests to include reference to discharge from wastewater pipelines and to marine litter.

Policies - Climate Change

GEN 19: Developers and users of the marine environment should seek to minimise emissions of greenhouse gases. Marine planning should seek to increase resilience of the marine environment to climate change impacts by reducing human pressure, safeguarding significant examples of natural carbon sinks and allowing natural coastal change where possible.

5.145 A small number simply voiced support for this policy with one, from the public sector group, asking that this policy be supported by a strategic objective.

5.146 There were many lengthy and detailed comments on this policy with respondents including many suggestions for additions or alterations as well as requests for more detail or clarification and these are summarised in the following paragraphs.

5.147 Commenting on vagueness in some of the text, such as 'significant harm', an academic/ scientific respondent wanted to see a commitment to mitigation or enhancement in all cases of loss of habitats; this request was echoed by respondents from the environment/ conservation group. Another from the same group felt the Draft NMP places too much emphasis on adaptation rather than mitigation of climate change effects.

5.148 Clarification of the effect of the policy on existing activity was sought by an energy respondent; the small area of kelp clearance required by their developments could be regarded as damage. This respondent suggested that positive or negative contribution to climate change should be used instead of habitat area.

5.149 Other energy respondents asked over what area the 'complete loss' test would be applied.

5.150 Several other respondents commented on the need for the policy to refer to measures for mitigation as well as adaptation. This included several who felt the current text too weak to provide guidance to planners and decision-makers, and wanted to see examples and suggestions included. These respondents all made the same comment:

"The NMP can act as a driver to ensure future management of the marine area addresses the challenges posed by climate change and plays its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This would ideally encourage: 1. Preparation of near, medium and long-term climate and oceanographic projections that define the implications of longer-term coastal and marine change. Planners can use this reference point when establishing measures and policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change; 2. creation of vulnerability maps and mapping of transitional habitats or places that may act as refuges for marine flora and fauna. RSPB, for example, has prior experience with this for terrestrial birds and is using the results in its current work (Huntley, 200821); 3. and scenario mapping or modelling changes to account for changes in habitat and species ranges."

5.151 An industry/ transport respondent suggested planning and decision-making in relation to climate change needs to take UK, EU and other international regulation into account.

5.152 A recreation/ tourism respondent asked that the text at GEN 19 "should make explicit reference to the risks posed by increased storminess".

5.153 A Local Authority respondent wanted to see the policy cross-reference the sector-specific policy guidance.

5.154 Requests for other inclusions came from respondents in the public sector group:

  • Recognition of benefits associated with offshore renewables;
  • Reference to the importance of ecosystem services, for example natural coastal protection and carbon sinks/ storage in the marine environment.

5.155 Another public sector respondent asked for clarification over the wording 'compensatory habitat creation' and whether this refers to the use of biodiversity offsetting or to mitigation measures.

5.156 Fisheries respondents also commented on this policy, asking that consideration be given to avoiding developments that diminish access to locally productive fisheries areas and stocks and that avoid adding to carbon footprint.

Alternative policies

5.157 Alternative policies suggested for inclusion were:

  • A general policy in relation to decision-making;
  • Provision for rationalised approaches to monitoring;
  • The drive for better co-ordination of scientific research effort.

5.158 Question 10 looks in more detail at alternative policies.

Appropriate approach to marine planning policy for landscape and seascape

Summary Questions 9 and 10

  • Respondents wanted to see more detail and clarification on a number of points in this policy.
  • Some thought that the policy does not afford enough protection for landscapes and seascapes.
  • Respondents suggested a wide range of possible additions and these included both general and specific policies.

5.159 As mentioned above, this policy ( GEN 14) states: 'Marine planning and decision-making authorities should ensure that development and use of the marine environment take seascape, landscape and visual impacts into account'.

Question 9 asked:

Is the marine planning policy for landscape and seascape an appropriate approach?

5.160 As shown in table 5.2, 47 respondents commented on this question.

Table 5.2: Question 9: Whether the marine planning policy for landscape and seascape is an appropriate approach

Respondent group Number commenting
Individuals (16) 4
Academic / scientific (7) 1
Aquaculture (5) 2
Energy (12) 5
Environment / conservation (9) 5
Fisheries (13) 4
Historic / Heritage (5) 3
Industry / transport (9) 1
Local Authority (15) 9
Local coastal partnership (7) 5
Local group (5) 1
Other public sector (10) 4
Recreation / Tourism (7) 3
Other (4) -
Total (124) 47

5.161 Several respondents welcomed the marine planning policy for landscape and seascape and said that it is an appropriate approach. These respondents came from various groups, particularly the energy group. One of the energy respondents welcomed the fact that the policy does not set out specific requirements "which will be set out in focused policy"; another welcomed the flexibility.

5.162 An academic/ scientific respondent commented on the need to emphasise the need for careful consideration of the visual impacts of developments. They also wanted to see "recognition of the contribution of communities to the 'living' seascape / landscape through their activities" and the impacts of changes to the use of oceans.

5.163 There was a request from an aquaculture respondent for guidance on isolated coast, wild land, amenity value and views over open water; they said that it is not clear how conflicting aspects are prioritised. They were also concerned that landscape or visual constraints could restrict the sustainable growth of aquaculture.

5.164 An energy respondent commented on the need for "recognition of the interaction with the safety aspects for marking and lighting for developments at sea". This respondent said that navigational safety should take precedence over design and that this should be acknowledged in the policy.

5.165 Environment/ conservation respondents did not think the policy affords enough protection for landscapes and seascapes of national importance and wished to see the policy strengthened with a requirement to protect and enhance these seascapes and landscapes. Several other respondents commented that the policy should have stronger wording than taking seascape, landscape and visual impacts 'into account'.

5.166 Environment/ conservation organisations and a public sector respondent wanted to see World Heritage Sites, for example St Kilda, added to the protected areas. It was felt that a map of Geoparks and World Heritage Sites would be a useful addition.

5.167 There was a suggestion, from a member of the historic/ heritage group, that the definition of seascape should include views from the sea, both seaward and landward. This respondent wanted to see a clearer reference to "the intrinsic contribution of cultural, historical and archaeological components to landscape/seascape". A Local Authority respondent also felt that the policy should acknowledge the importance of offshore and onshore historic landscapes while a public sector respondent wanted to see clarification on 'seascape views'.

5.168 Several respondents commented on the importance of local landscapes and seascapes and wanted to see recognition of this importance along with guidance on how these should be protected.

5.169 Fisheries respondents commented that the policy may not reflect what will happen "if certain proposed preferred areas for offshore renewable energy are developed".

5.170 Cumulative and sequential impacts in general were also of concern to respondents.

5.171 Environment/ conservation respondents asked for a map showing designated landscapes to aid understanding.

5.172 There was also comment on the need to site onshore infrastructure in appropriate locations.

5.173 Respondents commented that there should be reference to studies such as the recent Landscape/Seascape Assessment in the Firth of Clyde: a Local Authority respondent said "Such studies can provide an objective basis for the development of planning policy and identify areas where there are particular pressures that need to be addressed".

5.174 Local Authority respondents made a number of suggestions and these included:

  • That there should be guidance explaining how landscape and seascape character assessment should be addressed in Regional Marine Plans; respondents commented that "the Natural England guidance developed in relation to the East of England Marine Plan provides useful guidance in this regard";
  • That Local Authorities should be given the opportunity, in statute, to be informed and to comment on relevant offshore proposals.

5.175 Respondents wanted to see guidance on assessing and characterising seascapes and on how impacts will be measured. There was a call, from a Local Coastal Partnership, for guidance on consistency across Scotland and the UK when judging the impact of developments.

5.176 Commenting on wild land mapping, several respondents suggested this should be omitted, or commented that it may need to be amended depending on outcomes of consultations on the National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy.

5.177 One public sector respondent wanted to see several additions and these included: "providing greater clarity regarding the European Landscape Convention's 'all-landscapes' ( i.e. not just designated landscapes) approach and seeking to maintain / enhance landscape character (not just 'take into account'). Landscape Character Assessments ( LCAs) should be referred to as a resource along with NSA citations and information…. The importance of development design could be better emphasised … This policy would be relevant for specific reference to associated natural capital, linking strongly to general societal policies/objectives and to the Recreation and Tourism sectoral chapter."

5.178 Another from the public sector felt that the European Landscape Convention would provide a good framework to work within and wanted to see the principles applied fairly across sectors.

5.179 Recreation/ tourism respondents commented on the need to include communities of interest. Respondents from this group also felt the "link between landscape and seascape needs to be strengthened perhaps by identifying areas of sea that are the equivalent of a National Scenic Area".

Alternative general policies

Question10 asked:
Are there alternative general policies that you think should be included in Chapter 4?

Table 5.3: Question 10: Whether there are alternative general policies that should be included in Chapter 4.

Respondent group Number commenting
Individuals (16) 3
Academic / scientific (7) 2
Aquaculture (5) -
Energy (12) 4
Environment / conservation (9) 6
Fisheries (13) 1
Historic / Heritage (5) -
Industry / transport (9) 2
Local Authority (15) 5
Local coastal partnership (7) 3
Local group (5) -
Other public sector (10) 3
Recreation / Tourism (7) 2
Other (4) -
Total (124) 31

5.180 As can be seen in table 5.3, 31 respondents commented; one of these, from the public sector, said no other policies are required.

5.181 Respondents called for a streamlined approach and a simplified regulatory process. There were also calls for encouragement for inter-sectoral thought and stakeholder engagement.

5.182 Environment/ conservation respondents said that "The general policies section must include a description of the priorities both of nature conservation legislation, the hierarchy of protection and the mechanisms for delivering conservation of biodiversity within the marine area." There were also calls for consistency of regulatory approaches across sectors.

5.183 The need for guidance was again mentioned, with environment/ conservation respondents suggesting that the content of the draft Scottish Planning Policy could provide "guidance for Marine Planning Partnerships in the preparation and delivery of Regional Marine Plans".

5.184 Respondents commented on the need to refer to priorities in relation to legislation and to include hierarchies of protection.

5.185 There were calls for policies in support of activities and developments that lead to protection and enhancement of the health of our seas and biodiversity. Respondents also wanted to see a general policy to ensure that cumulative impacts of all planned activities are considered and another policy relating to ecosystem-based approaches to management.

5.186 Respondents also asked for an additional policy giving support to research and long-term monitoring.

5.187 An environment/ conservation respondent asked for a policy confirming the right to fish and on the Government's duty to manage our waters for the benefit of everyone. A respondent from the local coastal partnership group wanted to see policies which would increase the value of all landed fish, shellfish and aquaculture products and policies aimed at attracting additional funding to encourage sustainable management.

5.188 An energy respondent asked for a presumption in favour of energy developments sited in appropriate locations and in previously adopted plans.

5.189 An industry/ transport respondent asked for a policy stating that no Marine Protected Areas will be proposed in or near statutory port and harbour areas.

5.190 There was a suggestion, from a Local Authority respondent, that as several sectoral policies cover issues and basic principles that could apply across the board, these could be "brought forward as General policies so as to avoid repetition". One example given by this respondent was that "Rec and Tourism 4 requires that 'marine recreation and tourism activity should not unacceptably impact on sensitive or important habitats and species…'. This is a basic principle that would apply to a range of activities".

5.191 There were comments on the need to reflect coastal erosion and options for minimising future impacts from rising water levels, managed realignment and so forth.

5.192 Respondents also called for policies relating to:

  • Research;
  • Monitoring;
  • Cumulative impacts;
  • Marine litter or waste management;
  • The growing impact of non-native species;
  • Management of conflict and conflict resolution;
  • Support for both protection and enhancement of the marine environment;
  • The precautionary principle;
  • Safeguarding marine recreation;
  • A proactive approach to trans-boundary co-operation, including international;
  • Reference to management outwith the planning, licensing and consenting regime, for example in how recreation is managed.

Contact