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Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters

Map of Plan areaThe Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters supports a diverse marine economy and a vast majority of the area is used for multiple activities. This means there is a potential for competition and conflict. The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters was chosen to pilot the development of a marine spatial plan to support sustainable management of the area’s seas. It aims to balance the needs of local communities and marine economic activities whilst protecting the environment on which they depend. The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan is being developed by a working group that includes Marine Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and Highland Council.

This pilot Plan aims to put in place a planning policy framework in advance of statutory regional marine planning to support sustainable decision making on marine use and management. Through the process of producing the pilot Plan, there have been many lessons learned, which will be published shortly, to inform the preparation of future regional marine plans and the governance arrangements that could underpin Marine Planning Partnerships. It is also anticipated that the pilot Plan will establish a useful basis for the preparation of the two future regional marine plans for Orkney and the North Coast Scottish Marine Regions.


  • The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan (PFOW MSP) has won the Excellence in Plan MakingRTPI Award Winner logo Practice category at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2017. The team wase presented with the award at a ceremony in London on 15 June 2017. The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the planning industry. They highlight exceptional examples of planning and celebrate the contribution that planners and planning make to society. The PFOW MSP was one of 90 finalists competing across 14 categories and was the only shortlisted entry relating to the marine environment. The judges’ comments were “This plan, a first of its kind for the UK, should be held up as best practice for other councils struggling to integrate land and marine planning into a single plan. It is an interesting and imaginative approach to marine planning and given Britain’s maritime heritage, it’s surprising there aren’t more plans like this one”. More information on the awards can be found on the RTPI website

  • The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan has won an award in the Partnership category at the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning. Kevin Stewart, the minister for Local Government and Housing, presented the team with the award at the ceremony on 8 November 2016 (watch the nomination video).


Stage 1: Spatial Planning Framework


Information about the Marine Spatial Plan Framework

Stage 2: Research Studies


Information about research studies to support the marine spatial plan

Stage 3: Planning Process and Documents

Marine Spatial Planning

Information about steps taken to prepare the marine spatial plan