3 Integration of Socio-Economic considerations
3.1 The SEIA
3.1.1 On the same timescale as the SEA, the SEIA process commenced in 2018, with the preparation of, and consultation upon, a scoping report. The Scoping Report described the baseline information and key socio-economic issues to set out the proposed scope of the subsequent SEIA report. Comments received during the consultation were considered and integrated into the SEIA.
3.1.2 Subsequently a full and detailed SEIA Report was prepared and published in December 2019 ,based on the Draft Plan Option areas (Figure 2). This was consulted on from December 2019 to March 2020 and a consultation report prepared to summarise the comments and points raised by consultees.
3.1.3 Post consultation, and following agreement of the final Plan Options, as discussed in Section 1.1, a review of the SEIA conclusions in light of these changes has been undertaken and is included in Annex B.
3.1.4 Both the published SEIA and the update note (Annex B) concluded that there was potential for significant adverse impacts across a number of sectors, alongside potential beneficial impacts, but that there was potential for these to be mitigated based on project specific assessment and consultation.
3.2 How Socio-Economics have been taken into account
3.2.1 The output of the SEIA, alongside the results of the consultation, incorporating the views of impacted sectors (particularly the fishing industry bodies) and wider consideration of environmental impacts (discussed above in Section 2) led to further modifications to the assessed areas, prior to them being accepted by Scottish Ministers as Plan Options. The full reasoning behind these modifications is captured in Section 5 below, and a review of the impacts of these changes, and any further information released following publication of the Draft Plan on the conclusions of the SEIA, is contained within Annex B.
3.2.2 In summary, the modifications made do not significantly impact on the conclusions of the SEIA. The removal of some DPOs and adjustments to boundaries of other DPOs have the effect of reducing some of the previously-assessed cost impacts on commercial fisheries, particularly for demersal trawls and seines and pelagic trawls in the North East region, for dredges in the North East and South West regions, and for pots and traps in the South West and West regions. There are also reductions to the potential impacts on commercial shipping and tourism, particularly in the South West and West regions. Spatial planning at project level has the potential to further reduce socio-economic impacts.
3.2.3 Regarding the integration of socio-economic factors within the Plan, the importance of marine industries and tourism have been recognised throughout the assessment process. The Plan uses the outputs of the SEIA to recognise the potentially significant impacts on a number of sectors, including commercial fishing and commercial shipping. The Plan Options (Section 1.1) have been modified to avoid highly constrained areas and project level planning, assessment and consultation with impacted sectors have been identified as important project level mitigation measures.