Regional Marine Plans in Scotland are stalling due to a lack of political leadership and funding, according to a critical report from a committee of the Scottish Parliament.
In a report published today, Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLRC) finds that, 10 years on from the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, there has been slow progress in establishing Marine Planning Partnerships (MPPs) and developing Regional Marine Plans (RMPs). Of the anticipated 11 MPPs, only three have been established.
MPPs have been left to figure out how to develop complex plans with little advice on best practice, the report says, and the MSPs say there is a need for clearer guidance from the Scottish Government on the roles and responsibilities of MPPs and the process for developing RMPs from the outset.
In gathering evidence, the committee also heard that there has been a lack of clarity in decision making processes which has led to “a breakdown in trust” between stakeholders and has had a detrimental impact on collaborative working.
The report calls on the government to demonstrate its continued commitment to regional marine planning by publishing a renewed vision statement, including details of work to secure long-term finance and indicative timescales for establishing future MPPs.
ECCLRC Convener Gillian Martin MSP said: “Successful marine planning outcomes in places such as Norway and New Zealand have largely been driven by strong local and national leadership. We believe that stronger leadership in Scotland, by both the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland, would enable our success too.”
She added: “We believe marine planning partnerships lack the necessary funding to perform their statutory functions and Scotland’s allocated funding is ‘significantly below’ that of international examples. The Scottish Government must ensure adequate investment is allocated for the duration of the three-year marine planning statutory review cycle.”
The report stresses that more needs to be done to communicate the benefits of regional marine planning, given the importance of the marine economy to jobs and growth in Scotland.
Specific recommendations include the publication of national guidance for regional marine planning; improving the expertise available for RMPs; training for members of newly created MPPs; clear socioeconomic and environmental objectives for coastal regions; and investigating opportunities to involve community representation in RMPs.