Marine planning in Scotland

About Marine Planning in Scotland

The Scottish Government states that “In Scotland, the coasts and seas provide food, energy sources (wind, wave and tidal power, minerals and fossil fuels), routes and harbours for shipping, tourism and recreational opportunities and sites of cultural and historical interest. They also contain distinctive and important habitats and support a diverse range of species which we need to protect, conserve and enhance. These all need to be managed effectively.”

National Planning

The introduction of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 means the Scottish Government now has the authority to introduce statutory marine planning for Scotland’s seas.

Marine Scotland has prepared Scotland’s National Marine Plan (2015), which provides a single framework for managing Scotland’s seas. Aligned with the UK Marine Policy Statement, it sets out strategic policies for the sustainable development of Scotland’s marine resources out to 200 nautical miles.

The National Marine Plan will be reviewed every three years.
In 2018 the Scottish Government published the first three year report; National Marine Plan Review 2018.

Regional Planning

Where national marine planning sets the wider context for planning within Scotland, regional marine planning will allow more local ownership and decision making about the specific issues within a smaller area, and also account for the various ecosystems and biodiversity of different regions.

Scotland’s National Marine Plan will be supplemented by 11 Regional Marine Plans prepared by Marine Planning Partnerships as per the Scottish Marine Regions Order 2015.  These will provide more detailed guidance for inshore waters (out to 12 nautical miles). Pilot plans have been developed or are in development by the regions of ClydeShetlands, and Pentland Firth & Orkney are aiming to establish a planning partnership in 2019.

Wider Planning

Given the dynamic nature of the marine environment, it is important that marine planning is undertaken in an international context, recognising that activity carried out elsewhere can have a significant impact on Scottish waters and vice versa.

The Scottish Government works closely with a range of interests within the UK and Europe to ensure that the development of a marine planning system for Scottish waters aligns appropriately with other frameworks being created. It also helps to ensure a consistent approach, where necessary, whilst also ensuring Scottish interests are properly represented.

Key activities have been:

A joint Ministerial Committee Agreement on marine management, giving Scotland more responsibility for planning and nature conservation

A joint Ministerial Marine Planning Statement, detailing the commitment between Scotland and England to work together on marine planning

The development of a UK Marine Policy Statement, to set the high level context for marine planning, UK-wide

The requirement, through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, to develop national strategies on how to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020


For more information:-

Scottish Marine Planning