Scotland's National Marine Plan

This Plan covers the management of both Scottish inshore waters (out to 12 nautical miles) and offshore

waters (12 to 200 nautical miles). It also applies to the exercise of both reserved and

devolved functions.

2. Marine Planning in Context

2.1 Marine planning will interact with other planning and consenting processes within, and adjoining, the Scottish marine area.

National and regional marine planning

2.2 The Marine Acts set out a tiered approach to developing marine planning in the UK and Scotland. The framework includes the following elements:

2.3 UK Marine Policy Statement ( MPS): The UK Administrations share a common vision of having clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. Joint adoption of a UK wide Marine Policy Statement provides a consistent high level policy context for the development of marine plans across the UK to achieve this vision.

2.4 Scottish National Marine Plan: This National Marine Plan sets out strategic policies for the sustainable development of Scotland's marine resources out to 200 nautical miles. It is required to be compatible with the UK Marine Policy Statement and existing marine plans across the UK, in particular where there is interaction between England inshore and offshore marine plans and Northern Ireland Marine Plans.

2.5 This Plan will be reviewed and reported upon: the aspects covering Scottish inshore waters for devolved matters will be reported on at least every five years and the other aspects will be reported on at least every three years. These reports will review the effects and effectiveness of the policies and the progress being made towards securing the objectives. Although the timescales are different as dictated by the Marine Acts, an integrated process of review will be taken forward which leads to the Plan being updated as a single document.

2.6 Regional Marine Plans: Marine planning will be implemented at a local level within Scottish Marine Regions, extending out to 12 nautical miles. The boundaries of these regions are required to be set by secondary legislation - the current proposals are at Map 2. The final boundaries will be uploaded on NMPi.

2.7 Within these regions, regional marine plans will be developed by Marine Planning Partnerships to take account of local circumstances and smaller ecosystem units. Unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise, they are required to be in accordance with the National Marine Plan and the Marine Policy Statement ( MPS) to ensure they are consistent with national objectives and priorities and are subject to adoption by Scottish Ministers. Regional marine plans will not affect reserved functions unless a direction is made under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2010.

2.8 Regional plans will take some time to develop. The first Marine Planning Partnerships to be established will be Shetland and Clyde. In the interim period, the Marine Policy Statement and the National Marine Plan will apply.

2.9 This Plan sets out some guidance specifically for regional planners in Chapters 3 and 4 and at the end of each of the sector chapters. The basic legislative requirements for regional plans include:

  • Assessing the condition of the region.
  • Summarising the significant pressures and impact of human activity.
  • Keeping under review the physical, environmental, social, cultural and economic characteristics of the region; the purposes for which it is used; its communication, energy and transport systems; and the living resources which it supports.
  • Setting economic, social, marine ecosystem and climate change objectives.
  • Stating the contribution of MPAs and other designated areas to the protection and enhancement of the region.
  • Stating policies for sustainable development of the region.
  • Developing a Statement of Public Participation and carrying out consultation.

2.10 Marine Planning Partnerships will take different forms in different regions. The core Partnership should be representative but of limited numbers in order to facilitate decision making. However, this core structure should be supported and informed by a broader framework of groups focusing on particular issues and engaging the full range of stakeholders and interests. In particular, the involvement of Local Authorities will be important (the island Local Authorities will lead the Partnerships in their areas [9] ) and inshore fishing interests should be represented by Inshore Fisheries Groups whose management plans will inform and reflect the regional plan.

2.11 Approaches to regional marine planning have been piloted through various initiatives throughout Scotland. The Scottish Government will continue to support the development of regional marine planning by working closely with Marine Planning Partnerships and providing appropriate guidance.

2.12 NMPi also presents data at the regional scale.

The relationship with regulatory regimes and existing good practice

2.13 This Plan does not replace or remove existing regulatory regimes or legislative requirements. Rather it provides a consistent framework for their continued operation. The content of this Plan references where existing regimes are in place - particularly in relation to Living within Environmental Limits - and also sets out the key references which provide further context in each sector chapter.

2.14 This Plan also highlights existing areas of good practice, for example where voluntary collaborative arrangements have been put in place to resolve potential competition for space between or within particular industries. Where such arrangements have proved effective they are encouraged to continue and this Plan is not intended to negate the possibility of further collaborative arrangements coming into place in the future.

Marine planning, consents and authorisations

2.15 The Marine Acts require that public authorities must take authorisation or enforcement decisions in accordance with this Plan, unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. They must also have regard to this Plan in taking other decisions if they impact on the marine area. This Plan therefore provides direction to a wide range of marine decisions and consents made by public bodies [10] , including Local Authorities and the Crown Estate, for example:

  • Marine licensing: Certain activities in the marine area, such as most deposits in, and removals from the sea and seabed; construction works; dredging and the use of explosives require a marine licence. This Plan and future regional plans must be taken into account when licensing applications are considered. The marine licensing process will also consider specific aspects of proposed developments and use, reaching a balanced view on whether an individual project should be consented. Where broad spatial areas are identified within this Plan for certain types of activity ( e.g. Renewables 1, Aquaculture 1, 2 and 3) it should be noted that will continue to be subject to the licensing process.
  • Fishing licences: Commercial sea fishing licences will continue to be issued by Marine Scotland in accordance with marine plan provisions.
  • Aquaculture development consents: Applications for planning permission for finfish and shellfish farms are determined in accordance with the terrestrial development plan and now with this Plan. A Planning Circular [11] on the relationship between the statutory land use planning system and marine planning and licensing sets this relationship out in more detail. <applies to inshore waters only>
  • Ports and Harbours: Harbour Authorities have a wide range of statutory powers or duties providing considerable autonomy over their area of jurisdiction. Where Harbour Authorities are required to apply for marine licences, their applications will be considered in accordance with the objectives and policies of this Plan. <applies to inshore waters only>

2.16 The Plan should be applied proportionately, taking account of the potential scale of impact of any proposal as well as the sensitivity of the environment and/or any potential social or economic effect under consideration.

Marine planning and terrestrial planning

2.17 Marine and terrestrial planning [12] processes are both intended to deliver the Scottish Government's Purpose of creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth as set out in the Government Economic Strategy [13] . The Scottish Government's 16 National Outcomes articulate in more detail how the Purpose is to be achieved. Planning is broad in its scope and cross cutting in nature and therefore contributes to the achievement of all National Outcomes.

2.18 Most development and use which takes place in the marine environment also has an onshore component or implication. Alignment between marine and terrestrial planning is important and should be achieved through consistency of policy guidance, plans and decisions. Scottish Planning Policy [14] , National Planning Framework 3 [15] and Local Development Plans will all be relevant when regional marine plans are being developed. Terrestrial planning authorities are required to give consideration to marine plans when developing strategic and local development plans. Local Authorities will lead the island Marine Planning Partnerships and will also be represented within Marine Planning Partnerships in other areas, which will also help to promote further alignment of marine and terrestrial planning policy.

2.19 A Planning Circular [16] - The relationship between the statutory land use planning system and marine planning and licensing - which sets out greater detail has been developed. This includes guidance on:

  • Liaison between terrestrial and marine planning authorities
  • Timing of plans
  • Plans which take into account both terrestrial and marine impact
  • Consistency between policies and proposals in marine and terrestrial plans
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Sharing the evidence base
  • Marine licensing
  • Marine conservation
  • Particular sectors - renewable energy, ports and harbours, coastal defences, aquaculture

2.20 In line with the Circular, marine and terrestrial planning authorities should consult one another formally during plan preparation but also collaborate closely throughout the planning process to ensure consistency in their respective plans.

Marine planning and river basin management plans

2.21 By contributing to the management of human induced pressures on water quality, marine planning will provide one delivery mechanism for River Basin Management Plans. These take forward requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive to protect and improve the water environment and apply to coastal waters out to 3 nautical miles. <applies to inshore waters only>

Marine planning in an international context

2.22 Marine planning sits within an international regulatory framework which governs a number of aspects of marine management. This includes EU Directives such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Water Framework Directive; the EU's Common Fisheries Policy governing commercial fishing rights and obligations; and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS). As the planning framework develops, planning authorities will work with the Marine Management Organisation, the UK Government, other UK administrations and international neighbours to encourage compatibility with other plans.

Map 2 - Draft Boundaries for Scottish Marine Regions


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