Aquaculture developments were taken under the control of planning within the Planning etc. Scotland Act 2006 and the subsequent Town and Country Planning Marine Fish Farming Scotland Order 2007 which established the statutory requirement. There are three main components of the fish farming industry - marine finfish farms, shellfish farms and freshwater farms. The planning system covers both freshwater farms and marine farms out to three nautical miles.
All planning applications for aquaculture developments will be determined with due regard to relevant national and local polices and guidance in place at the time of the application.
Some of the main areas which will be considered are:
- Potential effects, including cumulative, on the environment, landscape, natural heritage interests and marine archaeology.
- Proximity to nature conservation interest, including wild fish populations.
- The implications on other marine users.
- Methods of operation e.g. lighting impacts, associated noise etc.
- Existing aquaculture in the locality.
- Carrying capacity of the area of water.
- The implications for tourism, recreational and other interests.
- The availability of any necessary infrastructure and potential impact on existing infrastructure.
- The need to ensure that safe navigation is maintained.
- Local interests and economic benefits and operational needs of a fish farms may also be considered.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): a study based on expert professional opinion which gives a detailed assessment of a particular development and its impact upon the social and physical environment of the surrounding area. All planning applications for finfish proposals (new and amended sites) will be assessed to establish if the proposal will require an EIA. Applicants are encouraged to consult planning staff as early as possible when considering their proposals so that informal views can be provided and advice on whether an EIA will be required. It should be noted that a 4 month period exists for considering planning applications where an EIA is required. Shellfish farm applications do not require an EIA.
Screening opinion: If you are unsure whether an EIA is required for a proposal, you can request a screening opinion, which requires the Planning Authority to issue a formal determination. Screening opinions are required for new sites or extended sites exceeding 100t biomass, 1,000sqm or those sited in sensitive areas.
Scoping opinion: If you realise an EIA is required, but you want assurance of its required content, you can request a scoping opinion which requires the Planning Authority to issue a formal determination on what you intend to cover in the EIA is acceptable.
Developers should refer to the Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum's EIA guidance and templates when submitting screening and scoping requests to Orkney Islands Council.
The Scottish Government web pages on aquaculture provide useful information and links to relevant guidance for aquaculture development procedures and sets out the Scottish Government's policy on aquaculture.
Crown Estates - The seabed is owned by the Crown Estate from whom seabed leases are obtained.
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) – SEPA license aquaculture developments under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR). This enables control over aquaculture activities and production levels to protect the environment.
Marine Scotland - Marine Scotland have a wide remit in regulating and licensing aquaculture developments covering:
- Marine registration which monitors the site its containment practices and fish health to ensure the quality of the local waters;
- Coast Protection Act 1949 (CPA) which grants licences to ensure that developments do not cause a hazard to navigation; and
- Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA) which prevents pollution of the marine environment.
Information and Guidance
There are a number of bodies that provide statutory views or advice on planning applications, some of these bodies provide information and advice to prospective applicants and it is therefore helpful to discuss your plans with them as well before you submit an application. This well help to identify what information you need to supply with your application form.
For further information, please see the links within the 'Related Sites' section of this page.