Section 25 — Activities below specified threshold of environmental impact

Part of Marine (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:00 am on 4th February 2010.

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Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party 10:00 am, 4th February 2010

Amendments 16 to 18 would require all regulations made under section 25(1) to deal with all the matters in section 25(2). However, until we have developed a registration scheme under section 25, we cannot be certain that it would be sensible to make an absolute requirement of the sort that Elaine Murray proposes. For example, there might be no need to elaborate on the meaning of "fall below", but if the amendments were agreed to, regulations that failed to do that would be incompetent.

Moreover, the wording of the amendments is such that they would prevent amending regulations from being made after an initial set of regulations had dealt with the section 25(2) matters. Instead, the principal regulations would have to be remade on every occasion. I doubt that that is Elaine Murray's intention and I would be grateful if she would not press amendment 16 and not move amendments 17 and 18.

At stage 2, we debated a similar amendment to amendment 19, and our view remains the same. Amendment 19 is unnecessary and unhelpful.

Section 25(4) already requires the Scottish ministers to consult

"such persons as they consider appropriate" when they make regulations under section 25. I reassure Elaine Murray again that the groups that are mentioned in amendment 19 will be consulted. An absolute statutory requirement, worded in the way that she envisages, could give rise to disputes about whether the right people had been consulted and could make regulations challengeable by people who thought that they came into the stated categories.