East Marine Plans

Information and documents on the development of the East Marine Plans

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will convert many EU measures into UK law. Former EU measures converted into UK law are referred to as ‘retained EU law’ with statutory instruments amending the retained EU law to ensure it is operable. References in this marine plan and supporting documents to EC or EU legislation, EU legislative requirements, European legislation and EU requirements are to be read as references to retained EU law from 1 January 2021. Unless otherwise indicated, a reference to a Directive, or provisions of that Directive, should be read as reference to the legislation which gave effect to the requirements of that Directive (or the provision of that Directive) in the UK, as amended. Such references will be updated when a decision is made to amend or replace the marine plan.

The East Marine Plans

The East Marine Plans were published on 2 April 2014. You can download or read the East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans.

You can also use our Explore Marine Plans digital service to understand and use the plan policies.

East marine plan areas

The East Inshore Marine Plan area covers 6,000 square kilometres of sea. It stretches from mean high water springs to 12 nautical miles offshore off the coastline between Flamborough Head and Felixstowe.

The East Offshore Marine Plan area extends from the outer boundary of the East Inshore area to England’s borders with the Netherlands, Belgium and France. This is a total of about 49,000 square kilometres of sea.

Using the plans

As with land-use planning, marine planning is a statutory requirement.

Marine plans must be used in all planning decisions for the sea, coast, estuaries and tidal waters (which sometimes extend a long distance inland), as well as developments that impact these areas, such as infrastructure.

All public authorities are responsible for implementing the East Marine Plans through existing regulatory and decision-making processes.

As well as public authorities, all applicants, third parties and advisors should also consider the East Marine Plans. Proposals should conform to all relevant policies, taking account of economic, environmental and social considerations.

To view all of the policies you can use Explore Marine Plans or read the full East Marine Plans

Monitoring and review

The second three-year review of the East Marine Plans is now available. Read the full report.

The East Marine Plans are 20 year plans, so it is important that they are regularly assessed. As with all marine plans, it is a statutory requirement that the East Marine Plans are monitored and reviewed every three years, looking at:

  • the effects of policies in the marine plan
  • the effectiveness of those policies in securing plan objectives
  • the progress towards achieving any objectives set out for that region in a marine plan and the Marine Policy Statement

Other ‘relevant matters’ also need to be reviewed, to assess any contextual changes that have occurred. These matters include the key characteristics and uses of the region, and any legislative changes that may impact the East Marine Plans.

Based on the findings of the recent review, the MMO has concluded that there is compelling evidence to suggest that the East Marine Plans should be amended or replaced at this time, and Defra has agreed with that recommendation. The MMO and Defra will work together to develop the process to revise the East Marine Plans, including consultation with stakeholders at each appropriate stage.

Developing the plans

The development of the East Marine Plans followed a 12 stage process, from plan area selection to implementation and monitoring. It included:

Choosing a plan area

The decision to choose the east marine plan areas for the first English marine plans was based on based on seven decision streams that were examined collectively with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Have your say

The Statement of Public Participation (SPP) set out engagement during the development of the East Marine Plans. The SPP helps ensure that the marine planning process is transparent, and that stakeholders understand how they can be involved and influence a marine plan’s development.

The Statement of Public Participation (SPP) for the East Marine Plans was revised in July 2013 with Secretary of State approval. The SPP was originally published in April 2011 and a second version was published in May 2012.

More information on how the SPP was developed, and copies of the 2011 and 2012 versions of the reports, is available on The National Archives including consultation responses.

Issues and evidence

Understanding the opportunities and challenges for the marine plan areas is critical to developing meaningful and tailored marine plans.

As part of the development of the East Marine Plans we produced and published an Evidence and Issues report. The report identifies key issues for the east marine plan areas and supporting evidence. It informed the next steps in the plan development process (generating objectives and options) and also met the requirements for scoping for the Sustainability Appraisal.

We also undertook a number of specific research projects. This included a seascape assessment.


Marine plans place sustainability at the centre of all decisions.

The Sustainability Appraisal provides an independent assessment of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

As part of ensuring the marine plans are sustainable, we also undertook a Habitats Regulation Assessment.

Published 13 September 2016
Last updated 3 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updates to page following the recent publication of the second three-year report on the East Marine Plans.

  2. East Marine Plan, three year review published

  3. Added the three-year progress report on the East Marine Plans.

  4. Tagging added

  5. New feedback questionnaire on East Marine Plans

  6. First published.