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.
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
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.
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 communicate effectively and where possible to align policies.