Protection of the marine environment should take priority over other considerations, including that of the economy, in planning decisions when the evidence of its impact is unclear. In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP, the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee also call for clarification on the marine planning process and for an evidence based approach to the planning and management of our seas.
Convener of the Committee Rob Gibson MSP said:
“Scotland is home to thousands of diverse species that rely on our rich marine environment. From the bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth to the puffins that have made their home on our north and west coasts. Our sea also supports a vibrant fishing industry and is critical to our export economy and our transport links with the rest of the world.
“So it is imperative that we get this right.
“Our Committee is supportive of Scottish Government plans to consult on the establishment of a national marine plan, on marine protected areas and on marine renewables planning. However, we must ensure that when there is lack of evidence on the impact of development that the over-riding priority is always our marine environment”.
The Committee took evidence on marine issues from Marine Scotland, a number of stakeholders and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.