Highly Protected Marine Areas - policy framework and site selection guidelines: socio-economic impact assessment – methodology

This initial socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA) identifies and assesses potential economic and social effects of HPMAs and proposes a methodology for carrying out the site specific SEIAs.

1 Introduction

1.1 Background

1.1.1 The Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party believe that the marine environment “should be clean, healthy, safe, productive and diverse, and managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people”[1]. The Bute House Agreement sets out several commitments to help achieve this vision, including the designation of at least 10% of Scotland’s seas as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) by 2026. HPMAs will build upon the existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)[2] representing a significant increase in the overall level of protection afforded to Scotland’s seas.

1.1.2 The first phase of a programme of work to deliver on this commitment involves setting a Policy Framework and the development of Site Selection Guidelines. These documents will provide a guide to the subsequent process of selecting, assessing and finally designating HPMAs. The Policy Framework is being produced by Marine Scotland Directorate. NatureScot and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) are jointly producing the Site Selection Guidelines.

1.1.3 The proposed Policy Framework and Site Selection Guidelines for HPMAs are the subject of this Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) methodology report.

1.1.4 As the location of HPMAs have not yet been identified, it is only possible to undertake an initial SEIA at this stage involving a preliminary consideration or scoping of the type of impacts that could arise from the future designation of HPMAs and restrictions/requirements placed on activities within HPMAs. Once sites have been selected and proposed for designation, it will be possible to undertake an updated SEIA involving spatial analysis of specific potential sites and a more detailed assessment of the scale of potential socio-economic effects. This report therefore carries out an initial scoping of potential impacts, and sets out the methodology for assessing the social and economic effects once locations have been identified.

1.2 Social and Economic Impact Assessment

1.2.1 The purpose of the SEIA is to identify and assess the potential economic and social effects of a proposed development or policy on the lives and circumstances of people, their families and their communities. It considers the potential economic benefits and costs, and their distribution among different groups, to inform the assessment of potential impacts on individuals, businesses, communities and society.

1.2.2 The SEIA for HPMAs aims to assess the potential economic and social impacts of the proposed designation and management of HPMAs. It will be informed by relevant guidance, due to be published for MPAs.

1.2.3 The objectives of the SEIA are, for each individual HPMA:

  • Identify the activities taking place, and the activities that could be affected by designation of each proposed site and how;
  • Identify and estimate the costs to potentially affected activities, specifically arising from the proposed management scenarios for each pHPMA;
  • Identify any communities and social groups that may be adversely or positively affected by designation proposals, and quantify the scale of such impacts where possible;
  • Estimate the costs to government (public sector costs) associated with the designation and management of the sites;
  • Identify, describe and quantify the potential costs and benefits to society as a whole associated with designation of each individual site.

1.2.4 Based on the individual HPMA impact assessments, a combined assessment is also required to estimate the potential aggregate costs of designation and management of the HPMAs as a whole and the combined impact on potentially affected marine activities, communities, social groups and Government.

1.2.5 A cumulative assessment is also required to present information on the potential total impact as a result of all HPMAs and other planned projects such as renewable energy development to date.

1.2.6 The assessment provides Marine Scotland Directorate with evidence on economic and social effects to inform a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA), and a Sustainability Appraisal for the proposals. Within the assessment, understanding of the distribution of impacts will include identification of whether any island communities in Scotland could be affected in a significantly different way from mainland communities, as required by the Islands Act 2018.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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