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Moray Firth SAC Area Planning Guidance

The Moray Firth SAC Management Group has agreed to work towards developing specific SAC area planning guidance, initially for the Inner Moray Firth, west of a line from Nairn to the North Cromarty Sutor (extending landward to Mean High Water Springs). This is intended to provide ground-work for future regional marine planning, and not to pre-empt that process.

A Sub Group set up by the SAC Management Group felt the MF plan should aim to deliver a functional system of zoned, temporal guidance for developers around the Moray Firth that would direct parties to current legislation and policy (e.g. as a flowchart) and offer supplementary information where required to help parties identify and overcome issues. An online map system could show 'hotspots' of concern in the inner Moray Firth / SAC where developers would need guidance. To be effective, the guidance would need to reflect accurate and up to date scientific evidence/data.

The Sub Group identified six key areas for the initial plan where known issues would merit more detailed guidance, and prioritised these in terms of the order in which they should be tackled:-

- Disposal and Dredging (high)

- Waste Water Discharges / treatment (high)

- Piling (medium)

- Recreational Traffic (medium)

- Hydraulic Surveys (low)

- Offshore wave and tide devices (low)

Other actions could be considered later, including issues or opportunities emerging from the MFP sectoral interactions study. The MFP was proposed by the SAC Management Group to take a lead role in both delivering and monitoring this initiative, following on from its work on the sectoral interactions matrix. Work in 20121/13 will include completion of the initial scoping study, and working to implement the first phase of the scheme once it has been agreed what this will entail.