Planning legislation and guidelines may be considered one of the least exciting things to engage with but its impact is wide ranging affecting how our islands develop.
On Friday 29th of November 3 MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee visited Orkney to meet with the ‘wider community’ and hear views on Marine Planning.
During the day the 3 members, Gillian Martin (SNP), Finlay Carson (Conservative) and Claudia Beamish (Labour) toured relevant sites and met with the OIC and other organisations.
In the evening the public came to share their ideas to the Marine Inquiry team. It was described as an ‘informal chat’ but the views expressed will form part of the Committee’s evidence.
There weren’t many members of the public at the meeting. Orkney Islands Council came in for quite a bit of criticism for being slow in the Marine Planning process. Shetland and Clyde both have theirs up and running. Shetland was used as an example of a good planning partnership.
What is Marine Planning?
The Marine Plan would be an overarching plan spanning all the other pieces of legislation and guidance affecting Orkney’s waters. In Orkney it is envisaged that there would be one ‘delegate’ (the person convening it) who would oversee collaboration with the other members – the advisory group. It seems most likely that the person in Orkney with this remit would be Orkney Islands Council. OIC has the facilities to take on this role but several members of the public expressed concern that there would be a conflict of interest. That is why the membership and role of the advisory group is crucial.
After it has been agreed as to who the delegate will be (OIC) by the Scottish Government there is then a period of 3 years in which the constitution is agreed, public consultations take place and finally a Marine Plan produced.
The Crown Estate
Funding was an issue raised by many and how the money from the Crown Estate could be used. The detail on this was not clear. When the Islands Act was in the consultation stages OIC was keen that Crown Estate money raised in Orkney should stay in the islands. Councils Receive Share of Crown Estate Revenues of £7.5million Both the public and members of the Committee appeared to be unclear about funds from the Crown Estate and the MSPs indicated that they would follow this up.
In September this year The Orkney News reported that Orkney was to receive £773,673.43 as its allocation from Crown Estate revenues.
Roseanna Cunningham Land Reform Secretary, in the Scottish Government said:
“The new funding arrangement will see coastal communities receive 100% of revenue generated from the Estate’s marine assets out to 12 nautical miles around Scotland, enabling them to better fund and support local projects and initiatives”
The waters round the islands of Orkney are complex busy places with many diverse users affected by what happens in them. Poor communication at every level has not helped public understanding of what to expect from the Marine Planning process. The Orkney News will endeavour to keep our readers informed of what is happening and how they can also get involved if they wish to.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame