Orkney Islands Council has welcomed an invitation to further develop plans for local decision making on seabed leasing in the waters around the county.
The Council’s proposal is one of five selected to progress to the second stage of the Crown Estate Scotland’s Local Pilots Scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to encourage local management of Crown Estate land, seabed and coastline – and to enable local authorities and other community bodies to test new and innovative approaches to managing such assets sustainably.
OIC’s proposal is for decisions on seabed leases to be made by an Orkney Islands Marine Planning Partnership. The Council would lead the partnership with advisory support from stakeholders with commercial, environmental, community and recreational interests in local waters.
Council Leader James Stockan said: “We put forward a strong and innovative case for local decision making and how this could be managed in ways that best meet the needs of our community.
“I am pleased that this has been recognised and that we are now being asked to further develop our proposals. I look forward to doing this in partnership with Crown Estate Scotland and local stakeholders.
“The waters around Orkney are a key asset for our community, but the seabed has historically been managed at a considerable distance from our islands.
“We are keen to see a more democratic approach, with decisions affecting sectors such as marine energy, aquaculture, commercial fisheries and marine tourism made locally and in ways which support sustainable development.”
The leasing of virtually all seabed around the Scottish coast is currently managed by Crown Estate Scotland.
A detailed business plan will now be developed to take forward the Council’s proposal for a Marine Planning Partnership for Orkney.
Crown Estate Scotland’s press release on the Local Pilots Scheme is available here.