• UK – Shetland Islands’ Marine Spatial Plan is set to be the first statutory marine Spatial plan in Scotland (Fish Update)

    From: Fish Update

    The fourth edition of the Shetland Islands’ Marine Spatial Plan has now been released for public consultation.

    By providing a detailed overview of Shetland’s marine and coastal environment and its various uses the Plan aims to reduce conflict and maximise compatibility between marine activities and encourage coexistence of multiple uses.

    Developed at the NAFC Marine Centre the fourth edition of the Plan will form supplementary guidance to Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) Local Development Plan and, once adopted, will be the first statutory marine spatial plan in Scotland.

    Work on the Shetland Islands’ Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) began in 2006 as one of four pilots across Scotland to trial and develop the concept of marine spatial planning under the auspices of the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment initiative (SSMEI). Whilst the pilot ended in 2010, the work of the SMSP has continued at the NAFC Marine Centre and it is now one of the most advanced in the UK.

    Adoption of the Plan on a statutory basis is the next step in its development.

    Its use as supplementary guidance to SIC will ensure that the terrestrial and marine planning processes is fully aligned and that Shetland will continue to lead the way in Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

    Rachel Shucksmith, Marine Spatial Planning Manager at the NAFC Marine Centre, said:  “The ultimate aim of the Plan is to ensure that the use of Shetland’s marine and coastal environment is sustainable and that it is clean, safe, productive and managed to meet the long term needs of nature and the local people.

    “The NAFC Marine Centre has worked closely with SIC to develop the fourth edition of the SMSP and we are pleased they have chosen to utilise the Plan as supplementary guidance. A review of the Plan has shown that users are finding spatial data useful when planning and assessing new developments.”

    The Plan has progressed with the support of a local advisory group comprising community representatives, government agencies, local industry and non-governmental organisations. Stakeholder engagement has been fundamental to the development of the Plan. It supports the advisory groups and Council’s vision for sustainable economic growth within a framework that protects Shetland’s marine resource and ensures its value to the Shetland economy continues into the future.

    It is important that the views and comments of all those with an interest in the marine environment are taken into account as part of the process.  As a result, consultation will continue over the next 12 weeks with a closing date for comments of 11 April 2014.  The SMSP and associated documents (SEA Environmental Report and Habitats Regulation Appraisal) can be viewed at: http://www.nafc.ac.uk/SMSP.aspx

    Martin Holmes, Coastal Zone Manager at SIC said: “This fourth edition of the SMSP represents and reflects a great deal of work and effort already carried out to develop a framework for planning and decision making in the seas around Shetland.  While the process has been overseen by a dedicated advisory group it is important that the public have their say on what they think of the Plan and I would encourage everyone to make their views and comments known.”

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