National Marine Plan and Draft Marine Circular

The National Marine Plan has been laid before Parliament and will be with Parliament for 40 sitting days. A draft planning circular called "The relationship between the statutory land use planning system and marine planning and licensing" has also been issued to act as a support document for the National Marine Plan during its consideration by Parliament.

During the 40 day period the National Marine Plan will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. The Circular was consulted on and will be published at the same time as the National Marine Plan. This Plan covers both Scottish inshore waters (out to 12 nautical miles) and offshore waters (12 to 200 nautical miles). It also applies to the exercise of both reserved and devolved functions.

Under devolution, the Scottish Parliament can legislate in relation to activities affecting the marine environment in Scotland’s inshore waters, except for reserved matters. The UK Parliament legislates for Scotland’s offshore waters, but certain matters in this area have been executively devolved. Marine planning matters in Scotland’s inshore waters are governed by the Marine (Scotland) Act 20101, an Act of the Scottish Parliament, and in its offshore waters by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, an Act of the UK Parliament.

The two Acts established a new legislative and management framework for the marine environment allowing the competing demands on the sea to be managed in a sustainable way across all of Scotland’s seas. Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 Scottish Ministers must prepare and adopt a National Marine Plan covering Scottish inshore waters. In addition, the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 requires Scottish Ministers to seek to ensure that a marine plan is in place in the offshore region when a Marine Policy Statement is in effect.

The Circular explains the relationship between the marine and terrestrial planning systems, including related regimes such as marine licensing and consenting for offshore energy generation, ports and harbours development and aquaculture. The Circular expands on and explains the arrangements outlined in the National Marine Plan on marine and terrestrial planning.

Date: December 2014 Date of publication

Author: Scottish Government

DCP link: This section updates DCP section 3.161

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