History of Marine Planning in Shetland


Aquaculture fish farm


The Shetland marine plans are some of the most advanced in the UK and were first developed in 2006 when the region become one of four pilot areas created by the Scottish Government under the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI). The first edition of the Shetland Islands’ Marine Spatial Plan was created in 2007. There have been 4 editions since with the 4th edition published in 2015.

The development of a Shetland Islands Regional Marine Plan 2021 (SIRMP) built on the existing marine spatial planning work by Shetland UHI. Following a public consultation, the marine planning partnership agreed that the Plan should be submitted to Ministers for approval in 2021.

Download a timeline of marine spatial planning events below:

National Context content

National Context

National Context

The Scottish Government created the National Marine Plan in 2015 which sets out the wider context of marine planning in Scotland. The government have created eleven Scottish Marine Regions which cover sea areas extending out to 12 nautical miles. Each region will create a Regional Marine Plan developed by a Marine Planning Partnership allowing more local ownership and decision making about specific issues within their marine area. In Shetland, the Marine Planning Partnership is guided by an Advisory Group.

Find out more about the National Marine Plan on the Scottish Government Website

Ministerial Direction content

Ministerial Direction

Ministerial Direction

On 22 March 2016, Scottish Ministers gave a Direction to the NAFC Marine Centre UHI (now Shetland UHI) and the Shetland Islands Council to prepare a regional marine plan. The Marine Plan reflects the requirements for regional marine planning under the Marine Scotland Act. The Direction can be viewed here:

Previous Marine Plan Editions content

Previous Marine Plan Editions

Previous Marine Plan Editions

The Shetland Islands’ Marine Spatial Plan SIMSP (4th Edition) was published in 2015 and adopted as ‘Supplementary Guidance’ to the Shetland Local Development Plan (LDP) by Shetland Islands Council in 2016. The LDP together with any Supplementary Guidance sets out the policies and criteria against which planning applications and works licences submitted in Shetland are considered.

Download previous versions below:

Shetland Islands Marine Spatial Planning Review 2012 content

Shetland Islands Marine Spatial Planning Review 2012

Shetland Islands Marine Spatial Planning Review 2012

In 2012 the NAFC Marine Centre UHI (now Shetland UHI), undertook an extensive review of marine spatial planning in Shetland. The review included assessment of planning and works licence applications, consultation responses and surveying key users of the plan. The review documented how the marine spatial planning was instrumental in the development of a spatial management plan for the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation, which supported its successful application for Marine Stewardship Accreditation. It also revealed that developers have utilised the extensive mapping work which has been undertaken in helping them to consider environmental, cultural and heritage interests.  

The completion of the review helped highlight areas for improvement and refinement in policies and data and guided the development of the fourth edition of the Plan.

Download the review below:

Contact Us

Marine Spatial Planning Section

Shetland UHI Scalloway Campus

Port Arthur