Orkney Islands Council has welcomed an announcement that innovative plans for greater local management of the seas around the islands have taken an important step forward.
The Council’s project is one of four selected to move to the final stages of the Crown Estate Scotland’s Local Pilots Management 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 approaches to managing such assets sustainably.
OIC’s proposal is for decisions on seabed leases in local waters 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: “I welcome Crown Estate Scotland’s announcement that the detailed plans we submitted are being taken forward in this way.
“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.
“Local decision making has been a major aim for us throughout the Our Islands Our Future process that led to the passing of the Islands Scotland Act.
“We put forward a strong and innovative case a for a greater say in seabed management and how this could best meet the needs of our community.
“I am pleased that this has been recognised and look forward to decisions affecting sectors such as marine energy, aquaculture, commercial fisheries and marine tourism made locally and in ways which support sustainable development.”
Gavin Barr, the Council’s Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure, said: “Our team has been leading the country for decades, in the operation of our harbour authority and the environmental services we provide - and more recently in the field of marine planning.
“I am delighted that our capability to take on further responsibility for the sustainable management of the waters around Orkney has been given this vote of confidence by Crown Estate Scotland.
“I also have every confidence in the professionalism of the council team to deliver this pilot scheme, which will further consolidate Orkney's position as a leader in marine planning and management activities.”
Crown Estate Scotland’s press release on the Local Pilots Scheme is available on their website.