Marine Planning and Sustainable Development

Marine Planning and  Sustainable Development Corkwing Wrasse Juveniles

The Marine Acts will bring in wide-ranging new powers to plan, licence and manage marine industry. Only if these powers are used in a coherent way, putting the health of the marine environment at the heart of decision-making, will they bring about a return to Living Seas.

Our seas are our most important resource, many do not realise how much we have come to depend on them and the health of them, they impact on us economically, socially and environmentally.

Essex is situated in the Outer Thames Estuary. This is one of the busiest bodies of water in the world where no part is left un-impacted upon by human interactions.

Sand and gravels are dredged for the construction industry, pipelines are laid for the import of oil and gas, Ports are constructed to allow bigger and bigger containerships to bring in essential goods into the UK such as, food, textiles, medicines, electrical equipment and much, much more.

Offshore wind installations and nuclear power plants are constructed to meet our ever demanding need for electricity, in short we are completely reliant on our seas for our economic growth.

The UK’s ambitious renewable energy targets will only be met through a massive expansion – and most of this is set to take place at sea, through windfarms, wave farms, barrages and tidal turbines.

The natural ability of a healthy sea to regulate the atmosphere, climate and weather is of enormous value. There are proposals to use the sea to tackle climate change in artificial ways – for example by capturing and storing carbon dioxide under the sea.

Until very recently we have taken the sea and what it offers for granted, exploiting its economic worth at the expense of its environmental wellbeing.

Marine Spatial Planning aims to ensure a sustainable future for our coastal and offshore waters through managing and balancing the many activities, resources and assets in our marine environment.

Marine planning will be the responsibility of the MMO in English waters. A UK Marine Policy Statement (MSP) has been produced which will be the framework for developing marine plans in all UK waters. The MSP sets out the general environmental, social and economic considerations that need to be taken into account in marine planning.

What is marine planning?

Having a well-designed planning system will allow all marine plan areas to be shaped according to a clearly set out vision, range of policies and objectives. Marine planning will inform licensing decisions as well as wildlife licences and nature conservation byelaws. All licensing decisions and implications of projects or activities at sea are made strategically against the area’s overall plan, rather than reacting separately to each licensing application.

A copy of the Marine Policy Statement can be found here.