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Publication - Publication

Independent review of Scottish aquaculture consenting - Scottish Government response

Published: 11 Jan 2017
Part of:
Marine and fisheries
ISBN:
9781786527226

The Scottish Government response to the recommendations of the independent review of Scottish aquaculture consenting.

10 page PDF

193.5kB

10 page PDF

193.5kB

Contents
Independent review of Scottish aquaculture consenting - Scottish Government response
3. Our Response to the 5 Longer-Term Options

10 page PDF

193.5kB

3. Our Response to the 5 Longer-Term Options

3.1 The ICR identified five alternative approaches for the consenting process with associated recommendations:

CO1) Consolidate Marine Licensing (for Moorings and Equipment) into Planning Permission

CO2) Aquaculture Act: Remove aquaculture from the Town and Country Planning Act and introduce a specific Aquaculture Act

CO3) Align the CAR and Planning Permission consents

CO4) One-stop shop

CO5) Removal of wild fish interactions from Planning Permission

3.2 We note that whilst some of these recommendations could be taken forward in tandem, some are alternative approaches and are at odds with other recommendations and the proposed quick wins.

3.3 Members of the CWG have undertaken initial discussions on these options and their view, as well as our intention for taking forward these recommendations and our agreed priorities, is set out below. Ministers will consider improvements on a wider basis and in line with work across government to ensure high performing planning and licensing systems (as set out in paragraphs 1.7-1.10).

CO1) Consolidate Marine Licensing into Planning Permission

3.4 The ICR recommends that controls for the navigational safety aspects of fish farm moorings and equipment are transferred from Marine Licencing to Planning Permission (it is recognised that should other longer-term options be progressed, this recommendation may no longer be valid).

3.5 We agree to consider this recommendation, in line with both the ICR and the views of the CWG. We have initiated discussions on potential delivery options; this has identified that amendments to legislation may be required. Any timescale for delivery will therefore be reflective of this.

CO2) Aquaculture Act: Remove aquaculture from the Town and Country Planning Act and introduce a specific Aquaculture Act

3.6 The ICR concludes that the development of a specific Aquaculture Act should not be a priority in the short term due to the potential for achieving similar outcomes through alternative options/recommendations.

3.7 We agree with this conclusion but, in agreement with the CWG, consider there is merit in some further discussion. Further consideration is given to the issues relating to an Aquaculture Act under CO4: One-stop shop.

Consideration of definition of development:

3.8 Other options to achieve similar outcomes have been considered by the CWG. The Group concur with the ICR recommendation that the 1997 Act should be amended to clarify that removal and replacement of equipment as part of normal fish farming operations should not be considered development.

3.9 We agree with the principle of clarifying those operations which should not be considered development and propose it is discussed in more detail prior to undertaking any formal public consultation.

3.10 We consider that changes to Scottish Government guidance could improve matters in the short term. We therefore propose to take forward work early in 2017 to amend two documents that have been identified as a priority:

3.11 We also intend to undertake consultation on amendments to Permitted Development legislation early in 2017. This, alongside improvements to guidance, should further clarity and provide greater certainty to industry and Planning Authorities, in advance of amendments to primary legislation.

CO3) Align the CAR and planning permission consents (finfish aquaculture only)

3.12 The CWG noted that the option to apply for both consents simultaneously already exists, although it is not generally used. They concluded that further alignment would add an additional layer of bureaucracy to the consenting system without a corresponding reduction in regulatory burden and therefore proposed that this issue was not considered further.

3.13 Following the CWG recommendation we do not intend to consider this option further at this time.

CO4) One-stop shop

3.14 The ICR concludes that the development of a one-stop shop should not be a priority in the short term due to the potential for achieving improvements through the consolidation of marine licencing into planning, and through the alignment of CAR and planning permission (CO3).

3.15 Members of the CWG reviewed the one-stop shop option and concluded that it would add an additional layer of bureaucracy to the consenting system without a corresponding reduction in regulatory burden; doing little to resolve existing duplication or uncertainty. Aligning the timescale and processes of CAR and planning permission had already been discounted (as outlined above in 3.12) for similar reasons. We agree with this conclusion and propose that no further consideration is given to this model.

Consideration of single consent:

3.16 As noted in paragraph 3.7, the CWG debated the benefits and issues relating to a single consent (as opposed to referring to this as an Aquaculture Act as per CO2) at the same time, and in contrast to, a one-stop shop (CO4).

3.17 All members concluded that improvements to the existing system (through both the quick wins and CO1 and CO5) should be made in the first instance.

3.18 Industry members of the CWG noted their desire for further discussion about an alternative consenting system for aquaculture, with consideration given to a marine locational consenting system outwith the terrestrial planning system. They noted a possible option might be the retention of a separate CAR licence (for discharges from the farm) as the operation of these two separate consents were considered to provide the most efficient and effective system and would enable future proofing of the consenting process.

3.19 We acknowledge the frustrations caused by the current consenting regime but consider that the proposed improvements to the existing system should have significant benefits. We will undertake further consideration as opportunities allow (and in the round with other planning and licencing improvements being made through the Programme for Government), ensuring that all those with an interest are fully involved in any future discussions.

3.20 We recognise the importance of local decision making and are mindful that any discussion of future options should consider how this is preserved as well as how sufficient resources and expertise are retained.

CO5) Improve consideration of farmed and wild fish interactions

3.21 The short to medium term recommendations in the ICR focus on improving knowledge and advice to inform consenting decisions. The CWG agreed that the consideration of wild fish interactions were the biggest concern raised through the ICR.

3.22 CWG members feel that there is a lack of clarity in the advice provided on this subject and further work is required to address this issue. They propose working with Local Authorities to improve Environmental Management Plans ( EMPs) and holding a workshop, bringing in expertise of others, to determine how to improve the advice provided to Planning Authorities on this issue.

3.23 The medium to long term recommendation on this issue in the ICR is for wild fish interactions to be removed from planning permission and to be regulated by Marine Scotland. The CWG expressed concerns that the ICR recommendation will not address the underlying issue of uncertainty in decision making.

3.24 We agree that further work is required to address this issue. Marine Scotland is already looking at how to improve its advice to Planning Authorities and will work with stakeholders to address concerns. In 2015, Marine Scotland commissioned a ten-year programme of research to meet the current gap in scientific understanding on the impact of sea lice from aquaculture on wild salmon in Scotland.


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