The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters and Scotland - Planning Europe's Atlantic gateway

Kate R Johnson*, Sandy Kerr, Jonathan Charles Side

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    The non-statutory pilot regional marine spatial plan for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters (PFOW) is a test to establish a precedent for the whole of Scotland. It is a pilot because it precedes and tests implementation of the statutory process for marine planning set out in the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. It was selected by the government for the pilot because of the high level of existing and proposed marine renewable energy (MRE) development in a relatively pristine area of coastal waters where traditional activities and habitats protection are already important. The PFOW is the first designated 'Marine Energy Park' in Scotland. It is under immediate pressure of development and the PFOW plan is already in use in support of the development consenting regime. This case study of the emerging plan identifies issues of generic importance to the planning of marine areas under development pressure in near shore locations. In particular, it highlights issues affecting the relationship between marine and terrestrial planning and the interests of adjacent island and coastal communities. The study concludes that a strong central marine governance regime is developing but that engagement of the local community and accommodation of terrestrial planning interests require further consideration. Full integration between marine and land planning may be unattainable but an equitable working relationship between them is essential. A notable feature of the PFOW plan is rejection of zoning in favour of a more pragmatic approach based on consenting criteria and locational guidance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285–292
    Number of pages8
    JournalMarine Policy
    Early online date29 Dec 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


    • Integration land/marine planning
    • Marine renewable energy
    • Marine rights
    • Marine spatial planning
    • Scotland

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Aquatic Science
    • Economics and Econometrics
    • General Environmental Science
    • Law
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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