SARF040a: Review of Marine Fish Farm EIA Thresholds

Start Date: 10th March 2008
End Date: 10th November 2008
Main Contractor(s): Aurora Environmental Ltd
Other Sponsor(s): Scottish Government and Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO)

Objectives

1. To examine current thresholds within EIA Regulations with respect to marine fish farming. 2. To investigate whether current EIA screening thresholds are appropriate in terms of environmental protection and make any necessary recommendations for their amendment.

3. To examine the environmental significance of any proposed changes to thresholds.

4. To examine the scope of permitted development rights (PDRs) and explore the likelihood of introducing PDRs for fish farming in terms of delivering net environmental benefits, fish welfare, fish health benefits, and flexibility for operating practices. 5. To investigate the level of change in fish farm infrastructure that might be permitted through any PDRs and the environmental significance of any PDR options

Summary

In Scotland determining the requirement for environmental impact assessment (EIA) for proposed "intensive" fish farming development projects fall under the requirements of The Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1999 (as amended by The Town and Country Planning (Marine Fish Farming)(Scotland) Order 2007). Such developments are listed under Schedule 2 of the Regulations for which a number of thresholds are provided. These thresholds help determine whether an EIA is required e.g. if a "proposed development extends to 0.1hectare or more of the surface area of the marine waters…" then it is likely to require an environmental assessment. This research will investigate current threshold limits within Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations, both within Scotland and other relevant European countries, with respect to "intensive" fish farming. Thresholds, in particular those relating to 'area base', as apposed to 'tonnage base', will be examined to ascertain whether such thresholds can be amended and whether, as a result of any amendments, permitted development rights (PDRs) could be applied. Permitted Development is development which is exempt from the provisions of Town and Country Planning EIA Regulations i.e. developments for which planning permission have already granted. PDRs are not currently applicable to fish farm developments