- Through the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, the United Kingdom Government introduced a number of measures to deliver its vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas ’. These measures included providing for the introduction of a marine planning system, establishing the Secretary of State as the marine planning authority for the English Inshore and English Offshore marine planning regions with the power to delegate certain marine planning functions. The Secretary of State delegated these functions to the Marine Management Organisation in April 2010.
- Marine plans, together with the Marine Policy Statement, underpin this new planning system for England’s seas. In 2011 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recommended a series of marine plan areas for the English Inshore and Offshore marine regions to the Marine Management Organisation. The boundaries for these areas were identified following stakeholder and other expert input throughout the progress of the Marine Bill, (now the Marine and Coastal Access Act) and were also subject to a specific consultation in 2010.
- These first two marine plans, of a proposed eleven, provide a clear approach to managing the East Inshore and East Offshore areas, their resources, and the activities and interactions that take place within them. They will help ensure the sustainable development of the marine area. Sustainable development for marine planning is defined using the United Kingdom Sustainable Development Strategy which sets out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development.
- A total of 11 plans will cover the seas around England, giving an area specific expression within the framework of the Marine Policy Statement (and other national policy). The marine plans do not establish new requirements, but apply or clarify the intent of national policy in the East Inshore and Offshore areas, taking into account the specific characteristics of the plan areas. They will help to reduce the overall regulatory burden on applicants and users, by acting as an enabling mechanism for those seeking to undertake activities or development in the future, and providing more certainty about where activities could best take place. The East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans should provide developers with greater certainty on where to invest their capital, ensuring that marine projects benefit from the right information at the right time, so they can move as quickly as possible from ‘concept to consent’.
- The Marine Policy Statement (1.3.5), marine plans and the planning process will contribute to an integrated and holistic approach to the management of marine and coastal areas in line with the principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management. The Marine Management Organisation has taken all reasonable steps, as required by the Marine and Coastal Access Act, to ensure that the East Inshore Marine Plan is compatible with any related relevant development plans (or their equivalent). The Marine Management Organisation is also working with public and local authorities responsible for other plans affecting the East Inshore Marine Plan Area. The Coastal Concordat, an agreement between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Transport, the Marine Management Organisation, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Local Government Association’s Coastal Special Interest Group, sets out how regulatory and advisory bodies propose to work with local planning authorities to enable sustainable growth in the coastal zone in support of streamlined consenting and decision-making.