Environment groups have expressed deep concern about the sector-led planning that threatens to sideline Scotland’s marine environment and the national sustainability agenda. Members of Scottish Environment LINK argue that delays to finalising a National Marine Plan will favour short-termist, large-scale development without ensuring due consideration of wider environmental impacts and the interests of broader marine activities.
A two year delay to the publication of the Scottish Government’s National Marine Plan means that an overarching marine plan, originally scheduled to be finalised in 2012, will now remain on the bureaucratic shelf until its publication at the end of 2014. Meanwhile sectoral plans, such as those for the offshore renewable industries, are due to be signed off long before.
The National Marine Plan should provide forward-looking guidance to businesses wishing to develop the marine environment and ensure that marine activities develop alongside each other sustainably, much like the terrestrial planning system. Meanwhile, however, activities such as the aquaculture and renewable industries are developing at a rapid pace without such a coordinated approach.
Members of LINK’s marine taskforce believes this delay not only risks Scotland’s natural and historic marine environment and resources, but also creates uncertainty for businesses within the wider marine sector. Scottish Environment LINK is calling on Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government to provide assurances that the National Marine Plan is a priority and will be progressed as a matter of urgency. Furthermore, LINK’s marine taskforce also asks the Scottish Government to ensure that sectoral plans will be revised in light of the National Marine Plan where necessary.
For wider media coverage of the issue, read:
‘Fear planning limbo putting marine environment at risk,’ The Herald, 12th October 2012.