14 Cumulative Effects
14.1 Interactions between the Scottish Marine Bill Policy Areas
In assessing the cumulative effects of the Scottish Marine Bill on the SEA topics it is necessary to first understand how the main policy areas that comprise the Scottish Marine Bill interact with each other. Figure 14.1 below illustrates the main interactions between the different policy areas in terms of the main deliverables.
Figure 14.1: Policy Area Interactions
Figure 14.1, above, illustrates the central role of Marine Scotland in the overall delivery of the Scottish Marine Bill and its roles in the delivery of the individual policy areas. The flow diagram also illustrates where there are linkages between the other main policy areas. These linkages demonstrate that the effectiveness of the Scottish Marine Bill in promoting the sustainable use of Scotland's seas and improving protection of the nature environment will be dependent upon both the successful and integrated delivery of each of the policy areas.
In terms of the proposals for marine planning, these are not particularly dependent upon any of the other policies areas per se but have been identified as being fundamental to the delivery of specific objectives and measures for site and species based marine nature conservation. This will mainly be achieved through the development of a set of MEOs (Marine Ecosystem Objectives) which will be integrated to the National Marine Plan as part of the overall National Marine Objectives. Additionally the marine planning process will also be responsible for the delivery of specific site and species based conservation measures through the appropriate allocation of marine areas for certain marine activities/developments.
Marine Scotland has been identified as having a lead role in the delivery of the MEOs and the site and species specific protection measures. The integration of this role into the planning system is clear at the National Marine Plan level for which Marine Scotland is also responsible but it is not as clear at the Regional Marine Plans level, preparation and implementation of which will be the responsibility of the SMR Boards.
It is identified under the proposals for Securing the Future: Marine Conservation that MPA designations will be based upon science-based ecological evidence. Consequently the delivery of these proposals will be dependent on the effective implementation of measures for improving our understanding of the marine environment through science and data. In particular it may be necessary to prioritise some aspects of the research or increased data collation in areas that have been identified as potentially being designated as an MPA to assist with meeting the 2010 target of a network of MPAs as required under the OSPAR obligations.
Proposals for increasing our understanding of the marine environment under Science and Data will also play a key role in terms of streamlining licensing and enforcement by creating a framework within which the data and information that is required to inform the decision making process can be collated and stored to improve its accessibility. The centralisation of data and information, and the improved capture, organisation, analysis and interoperability of that data will be necessary to assist Marine Scotland in developing a more coordinated and integrated licensing framework. It will also enable regulatory authorities to adopt a more holistic approach to the regulation and management of the marine environment.
One area where further clarity is required is the relationship between a streamlined licensing framework and a system of marine planning. Whilst it is clear that Marine Scotland will have a role in the developing both frameworks and responsibility for their delivery at a national level, it is not clear what mechanisms would be put in place to enable the integrated delivery of both frameworks at a regional or local level.
The proposals for licensing suggest that Marine Scotland's role would be as a front door or gateway to a licensing framework within which the roles of existing regulatory bodies would be retained e.g.SEPA. The main reason for this would be to maintain integration with land based licensing procedures e.g. Controlled Activities Regulations ( CAR) 2005 developed in response to the WFD obligations. It is also expected that FRS would be retained in some capacity within Marine Scotland to provide advice and assist with the regulation of marine activities. However, it is not clear how other development consents that are responsibility of the local authorities will be dealt with through either process. For example how will these activities be integrated into a marine plan if they continue to be regulated under the existing land based consenting system? Also what role, if any, would Marine Scotland have as a front door or gateway to the land based consenting processes?
This is an important issue both in terms of the success of the Scottish Marine Bill and its ability to promote the growth of marine industries e.g. marine renewables developments which require coastal infrastructure and protection of coastal environment in particular landscapes, seascapes and coastal processes.
14.2 Assessment of Cumulative Effects
Overall the proposals for the Scottish Marine Bill are likely to have a positive effect on all SEA topics except air quality where any effects will be negligible. Table 14.1 provides a summary of the main findings from the assessment of cumulative effects for each of the SEA topics. These results are illustrated in relation to the individual policy areas in Table 14.2.
Table 14.1: Summary of Results from Cumulative Assessment (Including Mitigation)
Summary of Results from Cumulative Assessment (Including Mitigation)
Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna
- Overall the Scottish Marine Bill is likely to have positive effects on this SEA topic for the following reasons:
- Increased protection of nationally important habitats and species currently not covered by European and International legislation
- Movement towards a coherent network of representative marine protected areas in order to protect and promote recovery of biodiversity and ecological processes
- strengthened existing protection measures
- More holistic approach to the protection and management of the marine natural environment
- Increased understanding of the marine natural environment will assist with its overall management and the regulation of marine activities and development
- Greater consistency of advice and decision making based underpinned by increased knowledge and more coordinated and holistic approaches to management
- Improved monitoring and enforcement to prevent adverse impacts on the marine natural environment
- Increased communication between regulatory bodies, stakeholders and developers
- Improved provisions for data and knowledge sharing
- The designation of MPAs could lead to a displacement of activities and developments from within designated areas. This could lead to increased pressure on natural resources/environment outside MPAs. However, it is expected that the full extent of this displacement will be minimised due to the flexible approach being proposed for the designation of MPAs where by only certain activities and developments that have an adverse effect on the features for which a site is selected will by restricted.
- Additionally one of the key roles of the marine planning process will be to manage the distribution/siting of activities and future restricted developments that have been displaced by MPAs or are likely to be excluded from MPAs due to their potential to have adverse effects on selected features in a way that minimises their effect on natural resources and the environment. This will help to reduce the effects that any displacement of activities/future developments from within MPA may have on other non designated areas. This spatial management of marine activities and developments will be of particular importance in inshore areas where pressure for space/suitable sites for development is already high.
- The cumulative assessment of the effects of the Scottish Marine Bill concluded that in terms of marine conservation although there are no specific provisions for the protection of geological features it is likely that these will be subject to certain levels of protection where geological features support habitats/species for which a site has been selected
- It is also expected that through the marine planning process and licensing framework there will be greater ability for a more coordinated approach to the impacts of marine developments/activities over a wider geographical area and over a range of receptors. This should improve the protection of the environment as whole including geology, geomorphology and substrate.
- Additionally the integration of the principals of ICZM into marine planning should facilitate a more holistic and coordinated approach to the management of coastal developments. This would have an overall positive effect on coastal processes by enabling wider consideration of the cumulative effects of marine developments or activities e.g. coastal defences and flood prevention schemes on coastal processes
- The Scottish Marine Bill consultation paper identifies a need for coordination and integration in the delivery of a streamlined licensing framework with existing land based regulatory systems.
- In particular, the licensing policy areas identifies the potential benefits of retaining SEPA in their current role (on possibly extending this into inshore areas) to ensure consistency with their current land-based CAR and WFD responsibilities and possibly enable the extension of this into the marine environment under the MSFD obligations.
- Alternatively Marine Scotland may take full responsibility for regulation of the marine environment. To prevent any adverse effects, clear mechanisms for coordinating land based and marine regulatory systems would be required. This would also have to be supported through appropriate transfer of skills and experience from relevant bodies e.g.SEPA.
- General increased protection of the water environment through improved management of marine activities and marine nature conservation
- It is unlikely that the Scottish Marine Bill will have any major effects on air quality.
- By implementing a more holistic approach to managing marine development and sea use, marine planning may result in a local reduction in air quality in some areas and an improvement in others
- In terms of other impacts on air quality from other marine developments/activities these would continue to be regulated as appropriate to ensure any impacts are minimal.
- In terms of climatic factors the Scottish Marine Bill is likely to have a positive effect on the promotion and growth of the marine renewables industry
- This would be achieved through:
- Increased consistency of advice and decision making at the planning and licensing stage
- Improved guidance in terms of appropriate site locations
- Management of conflicts with other sea users
- More holistic and coordinated approach to the development of the marine renewables industry across Scotland
- Integration of coastal infrastructure developments through ICZM
- Reduced burden associated with delays in decision making, inconsistencies in consultation and unnecessary survey/research studies
- Marine planning will also enable a more holistic and coordinated approach to the development of coastal defences and flood prevention schemes to ensure that they provide maximum benefit e.g. through correct siting etc with minimal effects on the natural environment
- Increasing our understanding of the marine environment will enable greater understanding of climate change, its effects on the environment and how we can respond/adapt to these changes/effects
- The designation of MPAs may assist in increasing the resilience of marine ecosystems to the effects of climate change
- This is reflected in the proposed flexible approach to the designation and management of MPAs
- Although not addressed directly, the processes of marine planning and streamlined licensing are likely to have positive effects on the historic marine environment through a more holistic and coordinated approach to the management of the marine environment and the regulation of impacts of marine developments/activities
- Additionally the policies and proposals set out within the SHEP consultation (March 2008) will be integrated into the Scottish Marine Bill and individual policy areas where appropriate to reinforce the holistic approach to marine management
- The greatest benefits in terms of the historic marine environment will be delivered through an increased understanding of the marine environment. This will assist in greater protection of the marine historic environment and in the sustainable management of marine developments
Landscape / Seascape
- As with the marine historic environment a more coordinated and holistic approach to the management of the marine environment and the regulation of impacts should have a positive effect on landscapes and seascapes.
- In particular there will be a greater opportunity to consider the potential cumulative effects of fixed site activities e.g. fish farms and renewables on landscapes and seascapes at a local, regional and national level
- Mechanisms for the regulation of impacts on landscapes and seascapes within a marine licensing framework require further clarity in terms of the coordination of roles and responsibilities between Marine Scotland, SNH and the Local Authorities
- The increased protection and management of the marine environment could have a negative effect on material assets due to possible increased restriction on the areas that would be available for development. However, given the pragmatic approach being proposed where by only certain activities will be restricted from protected sites by virtue of their impact on the features for which the site was selected, it is not expected that this impact will be significant.
- This is likely to be of greater concern in the inshore and coastal areas where in some locations there is already competition between different marine users for space.
- However, it is likely that these potential negative effects resulting from nature conservation would be offset by the following positive effects:
- Improved conflict resolution therefore reducing the effects of other ad hoc and uncoordinated developments on current and future activities
- Overall sustainable management of the seas natural resources
- Siting of the right technology/development in the right area
- The proposed sustainable management of MPAs means that activities will not be excluded from protected site unless they have a significant or negative effect on the features for which the site was selected. It is expected that most existing activities will be compatible with the MPA designations
- As with material assets it is likely that the various marine activities could possibly experience negative effects as a result of exclusion from certain areas but that these effects will be minimised and are likely to become positive in the longer term due to overall more sustainable management of resources and improved management of competing interests in inshore and coastal areas.
- In terms of commercial fisheries it is possible that in the longer term greater protection of the marine nature environment could support the sustainable management of fish stocks
- Marine planning and streamlined licensing will also assist in promoting the growth of the renewables industry through informed and coordinated advice, consistency and guidance
- It is likely that the recreation and tourism industries will benefit through the implementation of the Scottish Marine Bill in both the short and long term, particularly activities relating to wildlife watching activities.
- One activity that may experience longer term negative effects is dredging as a result increased regulation of those activities.
- Overall the Scottish Marine Bill is likely to have positive effects on human health through:
- Improved water quality
- More consistent and efficient mechanism for monitoring
- Holistic and sustainable approach to the management of marine activities to reduce effects on local populations and the nature environment
Table 14.1: Assessment of Cumulative Effects (Taking Account of Mitigation Measures identified in Chapter 17)