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FAQs

What will a National Marine Plan do?

The National Marine Plan will set out Scottish Minister's policies for the sustainable development of Scotland's seas. The Plan will manage increasing demands for the use of our marine environment, encourage economic development of marine industries and incorporate environmental protection into marine decision making.

Why is a National Marine Plan needed?

There has been a growing consensus in recent years for improved management of our valuable marine resources. The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 introduced a number of measures to help us do this, including marine planning. The Act requires Scottish Ministers to introduce a plan for the Scottish marine area, setting out policies for sustainable development.

What does a National Marine Plan mean for Scotland?

The plan encourages better management of the seas and aims to ensure sustainable economic growth of Scotland's marine industries, while taking the environment into account. A sustainable approach to managing our marine environment will ensure its resources are available for future generations to benefit from.

Who will develop the National Marine Plan?

Marine Scotland is developing the National Marine Plan in consultation with marine users, industries and other areas of Government. A Draft National Marine Plan  was consulted on in 2013.

How will a National Marine Plan relate to terrestrial planning?

The National Marine Plan will sit alongside and interact with existing planning regimes and will be consistent with strategic priorities set out in the National Planning Framework 2. The National Marine Plan area will physically overlap with terrestrial planning boundaries to ensure marine and terrestrial planning will address the whole of the marine and terrestrial environments together.  A Draft Planning Circular has been produced to address some of these issues and we are looking for feedback on this.

What area does the National Marine Plan cover?

We intend for the National Marine Plan to extend from Mean High Water Spring (MHWS) tide to 200 nautical miles. The powers in the Marine (Scotland) Act extend from MHWS to the seaward limit of the Scottish territorial waters (12 nautical miles). The UK Marine and Coastal Access Act allows Scottish Minsters to manage Scotland's seas from 12-200 nautical miles.

Will the National Marine Plan apply to reserved as well as devolved activities?

Yes, we intend to plan for reserved activities in Scotland's seas. The National Marine Plan will be guided by the UK Marine Policy Statement which has been created and adopted by the UK and devolved administrations. It will facilitate an integrated approach to marine planning across the UK. We will work with the UK Government to agree the marine plan for reserved activities in Scotland's seas.

Will existing users of the sea be able to continue their activities?

There is a presumption of use in the marine environment, subject to specific processes such as marine licences. The presumption of use will continue but the National Marine Plan will provide direction on what we want to achieve for the marine environment. It will set objectives and policies which will direct key activities and resolve conflict where it arises.

How will the National Marine Plan influence planning at a local level?

The National Marine Plan will guide regional planning. The Marine (Scotland) Act provides powers for Minsters to create Scottish Marine Regions and delegate planning powers to the regional level. Boundaries of Scottish Marine Regions have not been identified yet - responses to a consultation on possible boundaries are being analysed before a decision is reached.

How will the National Marine Plan interact with the release sites for offshore wind renewable energy?

The Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Renewable Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters will be integrated into and inform the National Marine Plan. It is intended to complement the National Marine Plan and future regional plans through the provision of relevant information and assessment for specific areas of marine planning.

Does the National Marine Plan only apply to industries such as renewable energy and fishing?

The plan has been developed for all users of the sea, including the renewable energy sector, fishing, leisure and recreational users, ports and harbours, aquaculture and transport. It also contains marine ecosystem and marine historic environment objectives to ensure protection of our natural and historic environments are taken into account when decisions are being made.

Will there be a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the National Marine Plan?

Yes. A Sustainability Appraisal, which includes Strategic Environmental Assessment, has been undertaken to inform development of the National Marine Plan. The Sustainability Appraisal Report has been published to accompany the National Marine Plan Consultation Draft

What information will be used to develop the National Marine Plan?

Scotland's Marine Atlas provides an assessment of the condition of the Scottish marine area and a summary of significant pressures and the impact of human activity. The Atlas provides a unique evidence base on the marine environment and marine activity and will be a valuable source of information for the National Marine Plan. Information and comments from marine interests will also be considered.