Resourcing and Programming of Regional Marine Planning

The Scottish Marine Region boundaries are such that The Highland Council will need to be involved in no fewer than 3 Marine Planning Partnerships producing 3 Regional Marine Plans for areas directly off our coastline (West Highlands, North Coast, Moray Firth). In addition, there will be interest in and need to be some interaction with partnerships and plans for neighbouring Marine Regions (particularly Argyll, Outer Hebrides, Orkney Islands). The 3 Marine Planning Partnerships for the Marine Regions in which we will be directly involved have yet to be formed.

The Highland Council has planning and other service involvement with a variety of marine issues and sectors and associated terrestrial matters and also was a partner in the Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. We can see real value in Regional Marine Plans being progressed. However, The Highland Council’s resources and in-house expertise to provide input to future partnerships and their plan preparation activities are limited. In this context, having strong Marine Planning Partnerships with other organisations and sharing of the workload will be especially important for Marine Regions off Highland’s coast. It would be helpful to understand the level and nature of support and resources that have been, or are to be, provided by Marine Scotland to the Marine Planning Partnerships for Clyde, Shetland Isles and Orkney Islands and to have clarity as to the level of support that will be available to the other, future Marine Planning Partnerships. For example, it would be helpful to understand whether additional resources may be available to put a project officer in place to work specifically in the Highland area within the Marine Planning Partnerships and on preparation of the respective Regional Marine Plans.

Also it may be useful for the preparation of the 3 respective Regional Marine Plans in which The Highland Council will have direct involvement to be staggered. This may point to the need for discussions between Marine Scotland, local authorities and other likely key partners in the near future with a view to determining a programme or scheme for the preparation of Regional Marine Plans across Scotland (beyond those for Clyde, Shetland Isles, Orkney Islands), similar to the Development Plan Schemes that are prepared by planning authorities for the preparation of their terrestrial Development Plans. For Regional Marine Plans, however, the scheme or programme should be owned by Marine Scotland with input to their preparation and buy-in from the regions (including from the local authorities). Having such a scheme or programme in place would provide impetus and focus to implementation of Regional Marine Planning and enable Marine Scotland, local authorities and other likely partners to plan ahead for resources. Notwithstanding that a Regional Marine Plan will need to cover all the relevant sectors and issues, plans for different areas may have different issues particularly to the fore (e.g. for some it may be aquaculture, for others it may be renewable energy) which may drive their preparation and influence the optimum priority and timing for that. Our organisation is likely to have some initial thinking about that to input to discussions and inform the scheme or programme.

Why the contribution is important

This idea is important to enable all likely future partners in marine regional planning to programme ahead their involvement with some certainty, based on a realistic view of likely demand on resource and resource availability and a programme to completion of the first round of Regional Marine Plans.

by HighlandCouncilPlanning on December 19, 2019 at 12:35PM

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