A set of templates to provide a clear structure to the Environmental Impact Assessment responses and streamline the consultation process have also been produced.
Minister for Environment Michael Russell welcomed the Guidance saying:
"We have a responsibility to assess the effects of any project that may impact on the environment.
"The EIA process and production of Environmental Statements, while essential, are both time consuming and costly to those involved.
"The new guidance and templates will help streamline the process and result in more concise Environmental Statements, whilst at the same time ensure our responsibility to protect the environment is not compromised."
Background:The responsibility for marine fish farming developments transferred from the Crown Estate to planning authorities on 1 April 2007.
The templates will be tested under a pilot exercise over the coming months to see whether the process can be made even more efficient, for example by web-enabling them.
The Scottish Government is committed to supporting an aquaculture industry that is sustainable, diverse and competitive, and has contributed almost £30K to this SARF project. The Government continues to sponsor SARF on an annual basis.
Both the Guidance and the templates are available on the SARF website at www.sarf.org.uk.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive was transposed through domestic legislation in 1988 and 1999. Under the 1999 regulations, an EIA - an assessment of the impact of the project on the environment - must be undertaken where any proposed development is to be carried out in a sensitive area, designed to hold a biomass of 100 tonnes, or greater, or will extend to 0.1 hectares or more of the surface area of the marine waters.
The Ministerial Working Group on Aquaculture has developed a Strategic Framework which provides the industry with a set of parameters within which it can develop sustainably over the next 10-15 years.
The Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture was published in March 2003 and will be renewed in 2008.
SARF is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.