AN AREA of water off Shetland’s north-west Mainland has been chosen as part of a pilot scheme into marine planning.
Swarbacks Minn, between Muckle Roe and Vementry, is the subject of a trial project under the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environmental Initiative (SSMEI).
The national project is now at the stage of selecting sub-areas (of which Swarbacks Minn is one) to have proper planning in the same way as land planning. The project was outlined to Delting Community Council last week by Rachel Hope of NAFC, who said the initiative will help to balance the interests of all who use the marine environment, whether for fish farming or recreation and to safeguard the natural heritage.
Shetland has been chosen as the area for a pilot study because of its experience of operating marine management and issuing works licences for marine development back to 1974.
The whole of Shetland was deemed too big an area to examine as an entity, so it has been divided into sub areas which form part of an overarching marine spatial plan.
Fair Isle is the first of the sub areas and Swarbacks Minn the second. They provide contrasting areas from the planning point of view – Fair Isle has no marine development at present but an interest in natural heritage, whereas Swarbacks Minn has activity in marine development, recreational (in the Brae marina) and natural heritage interests.
The first step in the plan will be to gauge the opinion of users, including fishermen, the aquaculture industry, recreational interests and those wanting to safeguard natural heritage.
The sea bed will also be covered by the plan and take in items such as pipelines and cables which are subject to statutory constraints. The area covered will extend 12 miles out to sea (the area covered by works licences) and cover an area up to 150 metres inland if it affects the sea.