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Marine Protected Areas training in Scotland

Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) has designated a number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  Work on this is being led by Scottish Natural Heritage and a new round of consultation is about to start. It’s fair to say that many of these are not always popular. Stories of harbours being closed and local economies devastated (unsurprisingly untrue) are circulating. These are being ramped up in just the same way myths about wind turbines (‘as loud as a 747 taking off’ was a recent one!).

There’s also concern from many conservation groups who say that the process is too slow and lack real teeth.  This has been made more timely and controversial by Hugh F-Whitingstall’s programmes on fishing which have highlighted the damage caused by dredging the sea bed. So we’ve been working (with Talk Action) to train staff in better public engagement and on how to work with hostile groups.  Chris just ran sessions on how to work with small (opposed) groups and how to organise drop-in sessions in small communities.  Again, not dissimilar to the ‘pro-wind’ training that we delivered with Action for Renewables at the end of 2011.

Despite the hostility there is plenty of support. It will be interesting to see how the next round of consultation (in June / July) turns out. We’re hoping that the staff will feel positive and confident…


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