SNP MSP warns of 'wide concern' around controversial highly protected marine areas impact on coastal communities

An SNP MSP has written to an SNP minister warning of “wide concern” about the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce ‘highly protected marine areas’ (HPMAs) on a tenth of Scottish waters.

Karen Adam, the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, wrote to the net zero and just transition secretary and party colleague, Mairi McAllan, warning of local opposition to the plans and stating people do not feel adequately informed.

If put in place, coastal areas could see strict limits on some human activity such as fishing, aquaculture and infrastructure construction with the aim of protecting and promoting biodiversity.

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Ministers have repeatedly said the proposals, which are being considered by the Government following a consultation period, will not be imposed on communities who do not want them.

Karen Adam, the SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.Karen Adam, the SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.
Karen Adam, the SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

In the letter, Ms Adam said “industry leaders” and constituents in the north east of Scotland had raised concerns around the impact on fishing from HPMAs.

She said: “If we are to be successful, however, we need to take the key stakeholders of the blue economy with us, and this requires a just transition. It is clear from recent interactions with my constituents that they feel this is not currently the case. I urge you to do all you can to reassure them that the Scottish Government is not only listening, but acting on their concerns.”

The MSP also called on the Cabinet secretary to sit down with concerned industry representatives and constituents to discuss the plans in a “roundtable discussion”. Ms McAllan told The Herald earlier this week that coastal communities would be consulted about plans, repeating a similar pledge from First Minister Humza Yousaf.

She said: “I totally not only understand and care about how coastal and island communities feel, I also understood that they would feel that way. And that's why I wanted to consult so early in the process.

"We are not at the stage of having any sites in mind. I firmly believe that you don't impose policies on communities, you work hand in hand with them to make them work. And that's the only way to do it sustainably."

It is not clear what would constitute a community not wishing to be a site of a HPMA, with more detail expected from the Government in coming months.



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