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Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters MSP: lessons learned

Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Pilot MSP


This document outlines the steps taken to develop the non -statutory pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan and the lessons learned during the process. It aims to provide guidance to support the development of subsequent statutory Regional Marine Plans in Scotland, which will be developed by Marine Planning Partnerships. The report explains what worked well and the various challenges faced through the pilot marine planning process.

Application in MSP: 
Taken into account in an MSP process
Not sector specific
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management

questions this practice may help answer

  • How is MSP being developed in Scotland?
  • What has been the experience of developing MSP in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters (PFAOW) marine area?
  • What lessons can be learned from the process so far?

Implementation Context

The Marine (Scotland) Bill proposes a new framework for statutory Marine Planning including the development of a strategic National Marine Plan and the creation of Scottish Marine Regions (SMRs) within which Regional Marine Plans will be developed.

This document outlines the “Lessons Learned” from the process of developing a non-statutory pilot marine spatial plan for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters. The pilot project was developed to provide a framework in advance of statutory regional marine planning to support sustainable decision-making on marine use and management. It was also an opportunity to trial the processes and stages required to develop a regional marine plan.


Aspects / Objectives

  • To analyse the process followed in the development of the PFAOW Pilot Spatial Plan
  • To make recommendations for the future development of statutory marine planning in Scotland.


The report provides an analysis of the process undertaken in developing the PFAOW Pilot MSP and produces recommendations based on this.

Main Outputs / Results

Recommendations are presented in a report published on line in March 2016 at:


The report provides a number of recommendations specifically addressing the development of statutory regional marine planning in Scotland, but they may also be of interest in others exploring the process in other countries.

Responsible Entity

Scottish Government.

Costs / Funding Source

Scottish Government, Marine Scotland, Highlands and Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council.

Contact Person

Tracy McCollin (Marine Renewable Energy Project Manager)

Marine Scotland 01224 295573