- Support for main features of the new UK marine legislation i.e. new planning system based on principles of sustainable development delivered in England by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and in Scotland by Marine Scotland.
- Welcome the bringing together of several different consent regimes and establishing the MMO as a “one stop shop”.
- Marine planning and licensing decisions must be speedy, properly balanced and not overly focused on the environment at the expense of economic and social factors.
- There needs to be a consistent approach in different parts of the UK and marine planning needs to be well integrated with other planning regimes. The MMO and Marine Scotland must work closely and constructively with other agencies involved eg the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Natural England/Scottish Natural Heritage.
- Marine planning and the system for designating Marine Conservation Zones and Marine Protected Areas need to take sufficient account of needs of navigation and the enforcement arrangements must be fully consistent with international law.
The Marine and Coastal Access Act received Royal Assent in November 2009. The Act sets out a framework for a system of marine planning to be administered by the new MMO with a great deal of important detail left to subsequent secondary legislation and associated guidance as well as a high level policy statement on marine planning covering all parts of the UK. The MMO has started business from its HQ in Newcastle and is now deciding on marine licence applications and port-planning casework transferred from the Department for Transport.
The Scottish Government has enacted its own marine legislation. The scope of the legislation is broadly similar to the UK Act with a new body Marine Scotland taking on the planning decision-taking role though port development decisions are taken by another Government agency Transport Scotland .
The new marine legislation offers some important opportunities for UK maritime interests. The MMO marine planning system for England, which will develop plans regionally for ten sea areas, should provide a more strategic and structured basis for taking decisions on marine developments based on principles of sustainability (which give equal prominence to economic, social and environmental considerations). The MMO is a “one stop shop” for decisions (including on new harbour developments which are currently the responsibility of DfT) with several different consent regimes brought together providing in theory for faster and more consistent decision taking.
Marine Scotland will develop a national marine plan for Scotland, including sectoral plans for offshore energy. These will all seek to take maritime challenges and opportunities into account.
Marine planning in the UK provides an opportunity to develop measures and policies designed to protect existing maritime interests and ensure future growth in the sector.
There are also risks for the maritime sector. Some of the more significant of these are:
- Marine planning and licensing decisions may be based on environmental rather than sustainability considerations, without appropriate weight being given to social and economic factors.
- There is concern that MMO and Marine Scotland do not fully appreciate the challenges and opportunities facing the maritime sector, including the full range of domestic and international legislation governing shipping.
- Developing marine planes for multiple regions around the UK will be time consuming and may not be properly co-ordinated with other terrestrial and marine planning/licensing regimes, or between different parts of the UK.
- Marine plans will be developed after a number of large-scale offshore renewable energy developments have already gained consent. This “back-to-front” approach will not allow any maritime protection measures developed in marine planning to be applied to these projects.
- The designation of Marine Conservation Zones is not taking proper account of socio-economic requirements,: enforcement will be disproportionate and not in keeping with international maritime law, and there is an unrealistic timetable which will lead to corners being cut.
Maritime UK and its members welcome being closely involved as key stakeholders in the detailed implementation of the legislation and in the work of the MMO and Marine Scotland.