West Coast of Outer Hebrides Special Protection Area: business and regulatory impact assessment

An assessment of the business and regulatory impacts of classifying the West Coast of Outer Hebrides Special Protection Area.

Scottish Firms Impact Test

This section is informed by evidence gathered during the consultation phase.

Businesses affected include some small and micro-sized firms. Additional costs imposed by the classification of the site have the potential to fall on small businesses.

Competition Assessment

Classification of the site as a SPA may affect marine activities where businesses operate within a given spatial area or require a spatial licence for new or amended operations.

Competition Filter Questions

Will the proposal directly limit the number or range of suppliers? e.g. will it award exclusive rights to a supplier or create closed procurement or licensing programmes?

No. It is unlikely that classification of the site as a SPA will directly limit the number or range of suppliers.

Will the proposal indirectly limit the number or range of suppliers? e.g. will it raise costs to smaller entrants relative to larger existing suppliers?

Limited / No Impact. Classification of the site as a SPA could affect the spatial location of commercial fisheries activity and may restrict the output capacity of this sector. However, restrictions on fishing locations may well be negated by displacement i.e. vessels fishing elsewhere. It is not expected that the distribution of additional costs will be skewed towards smaller entrants relative to larger existing suppliers.

Classification could affect the preparation of applications, location of marine developments and activities, or requirements for marine developments which would apply to any developer of an affected licensed activity when preparing and submitting an application. Additional costs will potentially be incurred by developers submitting new licence applications, but they will apply to both new entrants and to incumbents looking to expand or alter their operations.

Will the proposal limit the ability of suppliers to compete? e.g. will it reduce the channels suppliers can use or geographic area they can operate in?

No. Classification of the site will not directly affect firms’ route to market or the geographical markets they can sell into.

Will the proposal reduce suppliers' incentives to compete vigorously? e.g. will it encourage or enable the exchange of information on prices, costs, sales or outputs between suppliers?

No. Classification of the site is not expected to reduce suppliers’ incentives to compete vigorously.

Test run of business forms

It is not envisaged that classification of the site will result in the creation of new forms for businesses to deal with, or result in amendments of existing forms.

Legal Aid Impact Test

It is not expected that the SPA will have any impact on the current level of use that an individual makes to access justice through legal aid or on the possible expenditure from the legal aid fund as any legal/authorisation decision impacted by the SPA will largely affect businesses rather than individuals.

Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring

The relevant competent authorities for each activity / industry has responsibility for compliance, monitoring and enforcement of the requirement to protect the site. This must be done in accordance with Article 6 of the EU Habitats Directive.

Implementation and delivery plan

After classification of the site the relevant competent authorities must adhere to the legislative requirements so that adequate protection of the site occurs. Marine Scotland will be responsible for considering whether fisheries management measures are required.

Summary and recommendation

Option 2: Designate site as a Special Protection Area – is the preferred option.

The extent and quality of habitat and available food around Scotland’s coast supports huge numbers of different species of seabirds. Few countries can match this and we have an international responsibility to protect what we have around Scotland. Therefore the appropriate action is to protect and maintain Scotland’s seabird and water bird populations and meet the requirements of the EC Birds Directive.

Declaration and publication

I have read the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that (a) it represents a fair and reasonable view of the expected costs, benefits and impact of the policy, and (b) that the benefits justify the costs. I am satisfied that business impact has been assessed with the support of businesses in Scotland.



03 December 2020

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment

Scottish Government Contact point:



Email: marine_conservation@gov.scot

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