Marine renewables masterplan
The massive economic potential of marine renewable energy in the North of Scotland will be mapped out for the first time.
The Scottish Government has commissioned a Marine Spatial Plan for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.
The Plan will help harness Scotland's renewable energy potential by looking at environmental challenges and all commercial and development opportunities.
The Crown Estate is currently considering applications for leases for renewable energy developments in the Pentland Firth.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Richard Lochhead said:
"This will be another exciting year for renewables. In 2009 and beyond, Scotland is set to be at the forefront of the global development of clean, green energy technologies.
"As we open up the £10 million Saltire Prize to applications later this year, there will be continued worldwide interest in our huge marine renewables potential.
"Renewables can drive long term economic recovery so it is appropriate that the Pentland Firth - often referred to as the 'Jewel in the Crown' of our marine energy potential - is properly mapped to maximise the full, sustainable economic benefit.
"The Marine Spatial Plan will set out opportunities for our main marine energy resource area and act as a planning tool for developers, regulators and existing users of the marine environment.
"This will help us reach balanced decisions on the locational opportunities for new development, while respecting the environment and the other activities, such as fishing and shipping.
"The Scottish Government will bring forward a Marine Bill this spring that will ensure sustainable seas around Scotland. The Marine Spatial Plan will be a key part of the future management of the Pentland Firth and waters around Orkney."
A draft planning framework will be available by April and will develop this into an initial marine plan, through extensive consultation, over the next 12 months. The plan will fit with the outcomes of the Marine Bill process.
Initial discussions on the plan have taken place with the Scottish Renewables Forum, The Crown Estate, SNH, HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Power, Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council and the Pentland Firth Tidal Energy Project Board.
This support and strategic planning for wave and tidal power is part of a wider Renewable Energy Action plan for Scotland, due to be published by the Scottish Government in the summer.
The Scottish Government will bring forward a Marine Bill this spring that will ensure sustainable seas around Scotland. The Marine Spatial Plan will be a key part of the future management of the Pentland Firth and waters around Orkney.
The Crown Estate announced in September last year an application process for commercial sea bed lease options in the Pentland Firth and surrounding area for marine energy devices. It is the first marine power location to be made available for commercial development anywhere in the UK.