Regional Marine Planning

Marine Planning

What is Regional Marine Planning?

Marine planning, or marine spatial planning, is similar in a number of ways to town planning on land; both consider how the environment is used by people and the impacts of economic growth and development. Marine plans strive to manage resources effectively and sustainably for the economic, social and environmental needs of an area.

Marine planning involves the public as well as interests such as shipping, fisheries, defence, transport, conservation, recreation, local authorities and central government. The marine planning process brings all these groups and interests together with the aim of creating well-coordinated policies and plans which meet the desired outcomes for the area.

Moray Firth Partnership will:

  • actively encourage consultation on national and regional plans affecting our marine region, providing support in the consultation process to enable a wide range of participation
  • engage with planning organisations and act as a neutral, consultative body, assisting with their processes from a wide standpoint and with strategic overview
  • ensure that our Management Plan aligns, wherever possible with other organisations’ providing a cohesive approach.

Our Vision is that:

  • integrated and sustainable management practises are embedded in the systems for planning and management of the Firth
  • marine spatial planning is operating as an effective and well-developed process in the Moray Firth
  • as participation and consultation have increased; industry, local communities and the public, have become fully engaged in understanding, protecting and enhancing the Moray Firth

The Marine Planning Framework

Marine planning in Scotland is driven by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Marine Spatial Planning Directive, and integrated across the devolved Administrations of the UK by the UK Marine Policy Statement and the UK Marine and Coastal Protection Act 2009 [PDF].

The passing of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 set the wheels in motion for the full development of marine planning in Scotland. The measures incorporated within the Act include:

Marine planning: a new statutory marine planning system to sustainably manage the increasing, and often conflicting, demands on our seas
Marine licensing: a simpler licensing system, minimising the number of licences required for development in the marine environment to cut bureaucracy and encourage economic investment
Marine conservation: improved marine nature and historic conservation with new powers to protect and manage areas of importance for marine wildlife, habitats and historic monuments
Seal conservation: much improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system to ensure appropriate management when necessary
Enforcement: a range of enhanced powers of marine conservation and licensing

Our Seas – a shared resource

Scotland’s National Marine Plan

In December 2014 a new National Marine Plan [PDF] for Scotland was laid before Parliament. Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 this Plan covers Scottish inshore and offshore waters. Providing the required assessment for the Plan, Marine Scotland has published an updated edition of Scotland’s Marine Atlas. Key data form the Atlas is underpinned by a newly developed interactive GIS portal: National Marine Plan interactive (NMPi). A three-year review of the National Marine Plan was undertaken in 2018 and the report can be found here. 

The Highland Council produced the Highland Coastal Development Strategy in 2010.  This is a pre-cursor to the development of a marine plan for the Highlands. This now due for review but highlights many of the issues still current today.

Linking with terrestrial planning:

Terrestrial planners are responsible for planning down to Mean Low Water Springs and for marine fish farming (finfish and shellfish); marine plans extend up Mean High Water Springs so the two planning regimes overlap in the intertidal zone, between low and high water springs. The Planning Circular 1/2015 entitled “The relationship between the statutory land use planning system and marine planning and licensing” gives guidance about how the two systems should work together and encourages planners to