Highland Council’s Planning & Development Service has been active in the development of Integrated Coastal Zone Management on several fronts. It has run pilot planning initiatives in the Highland area, collaborated with other regions in Europe on international ICZM projects, and has represented COSLA on various national working groups dealing with coastal and marine policy.
The Council’s interest in ICZM stems in part from its experience since the 1980’s of preparing Aquaculture Framework Plans and the positive response which these have received. The Council’s involvement in fisheries development projects and management strategies for marine nature conservation sites has also made it aware of the extent to which interests can overlap in the inshore area and sometimes conflict. It therefore appreciates that more holistic approaches to management of marine resources and marine spatial planning can be key tools for delivering sustainable development.
THE SKYE ICZM PILOT STUDY
The Council conducted its first pilot study for ICZM in the mid-1990’s, when it examined the pattern of use and management issues around the coast of Skye and the adjacent mainland. This study also explored boundary issues and suggested a possible zoning system for sub-regional strategies with mapping at 1:250,000 scale. The results of this exercise were presented in the pilot study’s Key Findings and Strategy report (1997).
The Council then went on to become a partner in the EU’s Interreg 2C Norcoast project from 1997-1999. This international venture, led by North Jutland County Council, brought together planners working at county level in the seven countries around the North Sea to exchange experience of coastal management issues and to jointly prepare guidance on best practice.
This project produced a suite of publications:
- a review of national and regional planning processes and instruments in relation to the coast in the North Sea regions
- a set of reports on the “hands-on” visits which looked at coastal management issues in the various partner regions (Hordaland, North Jutland, Västra Götaland, North Holland, Lower Saxony, Suffolk, and Highland)
- recommendations on improved Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the North Sea Region
Copies of these documents may be obtained (while stocks last) from the Planning & Development Service.
Involvement in the Norcoast project was important in broadening the Council’s perspective and making it aware of how certain other regions in Europe are dealing with similar coastal issues to those of Highland. Norway’s experience of developing multi-sectoral coastal plans at local level is particularly relevant to the Highland situation.
COASTATLANTIC, THE ATLANTIC COAST (WESTER ROSS) PROJECT, AND THE TWO BROOMS PLAN
From late 2003 to August 2006 the Council took part in the Interreg 3B Coastatlantic Project. This involved working with partners from the EU’s Atlantic Arc area - regions from Ireland, SW England, France, Spain, and Portugal. The main aim of this international initiative, led by the Principality of Asturias, was to develop a vision for ICZM on Europe’s western seaboard based on the experience of delivering a range of local initiatives. This umbrella project, like Norcoast before it, was mainly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Together with funding support from other key agencies in Scotland, it made it possible for the Council to prepare its first integrated coastal zone plan via the Atlantic Coast (Wester Ross) Project.
This project formed the core of a study on the Design and Implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Plans at Local Level which was the Council’s main contribution to Coastatlantic. The study’s main objective was to develop an integrated plan for a sample inshore marine area and to monitor its implementation for a period of at least one year. Lessons learned in the process of making the plan were also regarded as a key output of the project.
The plan was developed for the Two Brooms area of Wester Ross – an area which had seen recent pressure for fish farm development but had no aquaculture framework plan in place. The Two Brooms area was also seen as a good area to trial a broader-based approach because of its scale (substantially larger than a single sea loch) and the variety of marine interests within it. The project was managed with the help of an inter-agency steering group made up of representatives of the Council and the other local funding bodies (The Crown Estate, SNH and Ross & Cromarty Enterprise) along with SEERAD and SEPA. Local stakeholders also contributed to the work of the project via involvement in the Community Liaison Group, topic groups, and public consultation on the draft plan. The project also involved a small comparative study of coastal planning in the Hordaland county of Norway.
A series of topic papers were produced in the earlier part of the project to appraise the specific resources and management issues in the Two Brooms area. These covered the following topics:
This was followed by production of a draft coastal plan which went out to public consultation in autumn 2005. The finalised version of the Coastal Plan for the Two Brooms Area was approved by the Highland Council on 16th August 2006.
The plan, which is advisory, contains general guidance for each of the main sectoral interests and area-specific guidance. The area-specific guidance uses to two sets of policy zones – coastal/nearshore and marine/offshore. The boundaries of these two sets of zones overlap in the waters close to shore but in terms of their descriptive content and policy guidance they are designed to be complementary. The plan documents can be viewed by clicking on the links at the below or within the Current Documents section at the top right.
An independent evaluation of the project, prepared by the Centre for Mountain Studies in Perth, is also available. The report on the comparative study of coastal planning in Norway can similarly be downloaded here as a PDF file (289 kb). Key findings of this comparative study were presented in a Powerpoint slide show to the Ministerial Advisory Group on Marine and Coastal Strategy (AGMACS) in December 2006.
Comments on the Two Brooms Coastal Plan and ideas for improvement in future editions of the plan are welcomed and should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Director of Planning and Development,
CROSS-BORDER INITIATIVES: THE SOUND OF MULL AND LOCH ETIVE
More recently, the Council has collaborated with Argyll & Bute Council to develop integrated coastal plans for the Sound of Mull (2010) and Loch Etive (2011). The Sound of Mull plan was prepared as one of the four local pilot studies of the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI). The Loch Etive plan was an initiative led by Argyll & Bute Council, whose territory includes most of the loch. The upper end of the loch however falls within the Highland area. Both plans provide information and policy guidance on a sector-by-sector and area-by-area basis to encourage sustainable use and development of these marine areas and their coastal margins.