Three documents have been published today that will set out the policy objectives for UK governments in managing the UK seas, introducing marine planning and streamlining licensing. All three help to fulfill the coalition government’s commitment to deliver the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
The new planning and licensing systems will help the management of marine activities, such as providing energy, which contribute around £47 billion to the UK economy; ensure on-going environmental protection of our seas; and give coastal communities a voice in the future uses of their marine environment.
Marine Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, said
“Our seas are some of the most diverse in the world, providing us with food, energy and a home to over 8000 species. These new ways of managing our seas will help protect the marine environment, while allowing us to make the best use of the resources it offers, like renewable energy. It will also enable businesses that rely on the seas, such as leisure and tourism, to grow.”
“The new systems for marine planning and marine licensing are a real opportunity to improve the way we manage our seas. They will create the framework for consistent marine planning and decision making, and will contribute to the sustainable development of the UK marine area.”
The draft UK Marine Policy Statement is the first step in this new marine planning system. The policy statement sets the direction for the use of our seas and shapes marine plans and licensing decisions. It has been developed jointly with the Devolved Administrations. The document sets out specific policy objectives the UK Government and Devolved Administrations are seeking to achieve in the UK marine area to achieve the vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans.
The marine planning system consultation describes how the marine planning system in England will be implemented. It will be led by the recently created Marine Management Organisation (MMO) with other interested organisations. Marine planning will define the future uses of our seas in any given area, with the full engagement of all those interested in the marine environment, from local communities to businesses. These changes will remove barriers to growth and will enable the best use of the seas’ considerable resources. The MMO aims to develop a comprehensive marine planning capability that will deliver a world-leading, integrated approach to marine management.
The consultation on marine licensing is designed to create a more effective, streamlined and transparent system, which would start in April 2011. Together with marine planning, the new licensing system will provide a clearer, more straightforward way for developers to take forward their marine projects in a sustainable way while protecting the environment, human health and other users of the sea.