Research and analysis

R086 - The location, condition and features of significant sites for habitat creation or restoration

Evidence requirement R086: The location, condition and features of significant sites for habitat creation or restoration


R086 - The location, condition and features of significant sites for habitat creation or restoration

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Requirement R086

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) requires information on the location, condition and features of significant sites for habitat creation or restoration.

Requirement detail

The MMO has identified that there is a need to increase the amount of evidence in relation to:

  • creating a national dataset showing the type and location of sites with potential to become significant habitats
  • using this information and an analysis of existing policy and delivery initiatives to assess what role there may be for marine planning and marine licensing in either safeguarding these sites or advising applicants of their existence, in relation to individual applications

This has been highlighted as an issue through marine planning stakeholder engagement. The intended result is to try and improve the environmental policy provision in marine plans and contribute more to environmental protection, whilst helping the economy to flourish. This will improve the ability of regulators and others (such as statutory advisors or those using the marine area) to simply and efficiently understand the potential of sites to create habitat or for it to be restored.

This could either be as stand-alone projects or part of development applications, once it is clear that all other parts of the processes relating to the Habitats and Wilds Birds Directives have been satisfactorily completed.

MMO use

Marine Planning: This work will assist with the continued improvement to the delivery of legal obligations relating to marine plans and will investigate the potential for specific plan policies related to habitat restoration and conversion.

Marine Licensing: This work will assist both marine licensing case officers and applicants try to ensure an innovative sustainable development approach.

External interest:

Natural England, Cefas, Environment Agency

Aims and objectives


To develop a national dataset of sites that are suitable to be used to create or restore habitats, either to increase the amount of habitat cover or in the event of marine developments needing to provide compensation for habitat damage in protected areas. The aim is also to understand how this could be used by the MMO and others (such as Natural England) who already hold some information on compensatory habitats or to applicants to whom such information would help with putting forward applications for development.


The objectives of this requirement are to:

  • create a full, consolidated, list of the sites potentially available for habitat restoration and conversion, using information from the Environment Agency, Natural England and others
  • use this information to provide recommendations on the suitability of types of habitat and to suggest how this information can be incorporated into aspects of the MMO’s work, such as being used as the basis for the formulation of marine plan policy

Existing evidence


MMO1014 was commissioned to provide recommendations to the MMO on the use of habitat maps in the planning process and requirements for future planning areas. As an introduction, this report provides essential background to the classification systems used in habitat mapping applications, and introduces the different approaches to seabed habitat mapping and their limitations. Using the latest up-to-date habitat map developed by the JNCC and Cefas, a description is provided of the map and the issues that end-users, such as planners, may come across when using the data layer. The report also provides recommendations on the appropriate use of habitat maps for marine planning.


Most academic literature on this topic focuses upon the ability of different habitats to be restored and the role of restored or newly-created habitat as equivalent compensation for habitat that has been lost. Whilst some literature suggests that some types of habitat may be more easily replaced than others Morris et al, (2006), much focus is on the intertidal area, where the literature suggests there may be some potential for habitat restoration, though only under certain conditions Mazik, K., et al (2010).

Current activity

The MMO has an active project to fulfil this requirement MMO1135 - The location, condition and features of significant sites for habitat creation or restoration.

Further details

For more information or to add further research to the existing evidence list please email

Published 17 November 2016
Last updated 13 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Text updated
  2. First published.