UK (Scotland)

UK (Scotland)

United Kingdom (Scotland)The Marine (Scotland) Act in 2010 introduced a new era for the management of Scotland’s seas and the resulting National Marine Plan (NMP), published in March 2015, sets the wider context for planning within Scotland, including what should be considered when creating local, regional marine plans. The NMP covers both the territorial sea (inshore waters) and exclusive economic zone.

Scotland’s National Marine Plan:

  • Provides a structure that embeds environmental protection in decision making, improving consistency of decision making and providing greater certainty for developers and users of the sea.
  • Ensures that public authorities who make authorisation or enforcement decisions, or any other decision that affects the marine environment, do so in accordance with the NMP; and
  • Provides a framework for the future development of regional marine plans.

The general policies of the NMP represent the parameters against which all sustainable development is undertaken in a manner that is sensitive to the protection and enhancement of the environment, the needs of other users, and the long term health of the sea. Since sustainability is an overarching principle, all environmental, social and economic general policies are intended to be complementary.

Each sector chapter of the NMP contains a number of objectives specific to that sector. These objectives focus mainly on the promotion of sustainable economic growth of that sector and while not all objectives can necessarily be achieved directly by marine spatial planning, they are an important context for planning and decision making.

The National Marine Plan requires on-going monitoring and evaluation to learn lessons from implementing the process, assess its impact, and consider emerging issues that may need to be examined in more detail. Aspects of the NMP covering inshore waters must be reported on every five years and aspects covering offshore waters must be reported on every three years.

United Kingdom (Scotland)

Eleven Scottish Marine Regions have been created that cover sea areas extending out to 12nm. Regional Marine Plans will be developed in turn by Marine Planning Partnerships, allowing more local ownership and decision making about specific issues within their area. The regional marine plans will be developed in phases. The Clyde and Shetland Isles will be the first regions to undertake regional marine planning.

A Marine Atlas of Scotland was published in 2011. Marine Scotland also developed an on-line planning portal—Marine Scotland Information (MSI)—making spatial data available to marine stakeholders in an easily accessible form to assist with the implementation of marine planning.



Authority:National legislation
Lead Planning Agency:Marine Scotland
Financing:Funding exists to fully implement the plan.
Size of Planning Area:More than 100,000 km2
Time required to complete the plans:More than 4 years
Drivers of MSP:Effects of climate change (e.g., sea-level rise); New and emerging uses of the marine area; e.g., wind energy, aquaculture; Perceived conflicts between uses and nature conservation, e.g., marine protected areas; Perceived conflicts among uses, e.g., marine mining v. fishing; Economic growth concerns; Need for a more integrated approach.
Stakeholder participation:Throughout the MSP process
Sectors included in planning:All
Relation to coastal management:Weak connection to adjacent coastal management program
Relation to marine protected area management:Existing and future MPAs incorporated in the management plan
Plan approval:Plan implemented
Legal Status of Plan:Regulatory and enforceable
Plan revision:Review/revision every 3 years
Performance monitoring and evaluation:Plan has not been revised yet



MSP in Scotland