The purpose of marine planning under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA) is to help achieve sustainable development of the marine area. UK Administrations published the UK Marine Policy Statement (MPS) in March 2011 as part of a new system of marine planning being introduced across UK seas. The MPS will ensure an appropriate and consistent approach to marine planning across UK waters with the purpose of achieving the sustainable development of our seas by guiding marine licensing and other decisions. In Wales, marine planning is being taken forward by the Welsh Government.
The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 sets ambitious, long-term goals for a prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal Wales; with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. It aims to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of Wales in accordance with the sustainable development principle.
The marine planning systems will allow the Welsh Government to strategically, and holistically, plan for and guide the management of Wales’s seas; integrating economic, social and environmental considerations, and engaging with communities to help shape the future. Marine planning will build on the framework provided by the MPS and Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act to reflect the specific needs and interests of Wales.
The MPS requires plan-making authorities to use the best available evidence in plan making. In order to ensure that Welsh Government is in a position to do so, it has commissioned this Wales' Marine Evidence Report (WMER) to assess the spatial distribution of natural resources and human activities within Wales’s marine area and to understand at a strategic level the key issues that marine planning should take account of.
This WMER has collated and summarised the evidence base available for the Welsh Government to develop and implement the Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP). It has been structured to mirror the MPS and to reflect the scope of the WNMP. It includes evidence on status of the marine environment (e.g. biodiversity and geodiversity), over-arching issues (e.g. climate change; air and water quality; noise; historic environment; seascape) and specific human activities (e.g. aggregates; aquaculture; defence; navigation dredging and disposal; energy; fisheries; recreation and tourism; telecommunication cabling; transport (ports and shipping); surface water management and waste water treatment and disposal). Further evaluations are provided on the social and economic considerations of these topics for marine planning. The evidence in this WMER has been collected from a variety of public sources in the peer-reviewed and grey literature.
The WMER has been developed through a stepwise process of evidence identification, collation and analysis. The introductory Chapters provide the context for marine planning, the relationship with other planning regimes and a series of general considerations. The current WMER has been produced iteratively with earlier drafts distributed to and reviewed by policy and regulatory leads in the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales. This has facilitated refinement of the content, ensuring a clear Welsh focus and producing a quality assured product.
In developing the Welsh National Marine Plan the Welsh Government will need to balance environmental, economic, social and cultural considerations. Marine planning requires an understanding of if and how marine space and resources may be managed to optimise their use by multiple, often interdependent, interests. This will entail evaluations of the possible use of spaces for protection, development by multiple and single activities, recognising that the marine environment is already used / enjoyed by multiple stakeholders (for livelihood and pleasure). The WMER also presents some initial considerations for identifying areas of future technical opportunity.