Developing the East Inshore and East Offshore marine plan areas

Details of how the first English marine plans were developed following the marine planning stepped process.

The East Inshore and East Offshore marine plan areas were the first 2 marine plan areas to be selected in England.

The final plans were published on 2 April 2014.

An interactive tool – Explore Marine Plans – explains how marine plans apply to different marine sectors and geographic areas. It highlights policies that apply to a chosen area to inform plan users, and mapping information makes searching for your area of interest easier.

1. Select plan area

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) decided to plan an inshore and offshore area together and to select an area that did not share borders administered by Marine Scotland or the Welsh Government.

MMO judged that the East marine areas would offer the best opportunity for planning to make a significant positive impact at that current time. MMO considered:

  • potential benefits to the region of the planning process
  • increasing pressure on marine users and the natural environment because of planned wind farm development
  • a wide range of activities
  • good potential for future sustainable development
  • a significant contribution to the national economy
  • the wide range of communities
  • any benefits that planning could bring to less well-off communities

Read the ‘Decision on first marine plan areas’.

The area

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.

2. Agree how and when interested people will be involved

The Statement of Public Participation (SPP) sets out how you can be involved in the planning process for the East marine plan areas and was approved by the Secretary of State in April 2011.

The East inshore and East offshore marine plan areas Statement of Public Participation (SPP) (PDF, 905 KB, 26 pages) was revised in 2012, 2013 and finally March 2015.

3 and 4. Initial preparation (identify issues and gather evidence)

The start of the planning process began officially in April 2011.

The Evidence and Issues Report was published on 7 February 2012 and covers all the important activities that take place in the East marine areas, as well as the economic, social and environmental considerations for the plans.

MMO produced a seascape character assessment to verify the important characteristics and to allow them to be included in the evidence base for policy development within marine planning.

5. Agree vision and objectives

MMO consulted widely on the draft vision and objectives for the East marine plans in 2012. MMO produced an updated draft vision and objectives in response to the comments made. Future assessment of issues and solutions or developing government policy may lead to further change.

6. Develop options

Wind and aggregates were identified as the starting point for options development, in the East areas. This document explains the initial options in the East marine plan areas.

7 and 8. Draft plan produced

The consultation draft East Inshore and East Offshore plans were approved by the Secretary of State in 2013.

9. Consultation

The consultation process on the draft plans included:

  • formal consultation on the draft plans for 12 weeks from 16 July 2013 to 8 October 2013
  • 9 public drop-in sessions held during this period along the East coast
  • reporting area drop-in sessions in Scarborough and London
  • 2 decision-makers workshops with public authorities and regulators to explore approaches to implementation of the marine plans
  • numerous presentations and meetings with stakeholder groups

MMO also received comments on the maps in the draft plans.

10. Independent investigation

Following the public consultation on the plan, MMO recommended that an independent investigation was not required. Although a small number of stakeholders still have concerns about very specific issues, MMO is confident that it has made as much effort as can reasonably be expected to resolve outstanding matters, and that those issues remaining were not significant enough to prevent adoption of the plans.

This recommendation was accepted by the Secretary of State, who agreed that there was no need for an Independent Investigation.

11. Final plan adopted and approved

The final plans were published on 2 April 2014.

12. Implement, monitor and review

The East Inshore and Offshore Implementation and Monitoring Plan sets out an approach to marine plan implementation describing in detail the monitoring approach adopted by the Marine Management Organisation who has a duty to monitor and periodically report on marine plans under section 61 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Effective monitoring is essential in understanding the effects that arise from the East marine plans and whether they were effectively implemented. Information gathered from plan monitoring may be considered within the review process and in any recommendations made to the Secretary of State whether for their amendment or replacement.

Establishing a baseline for monitoring

In order to measure any effects arising from the Plans over time, it is important to collect baseline information on those indicators identified in the Implementation and Monitoring Plan. Establishing a baseline soon after the Plans are adopted is vital to help us understand the present character of the East plan area and how decisions are currently being made (including what is predicted to have happened in the absence of a plan). This information will ensure we can effectively measure any changes that may occur over time. The MMO has begun to collect baseline data for each indicator where available, although this is not possible for all (for example those associated with plan implementation which require a longer time period after plan adoption before data can be collected).

Baseline data will be collected for all marine plan areas, not just the East. This is in keeping with the ‘framework approach’ described in the Implementation and Monitoring Plan and will contribute to the wider marine planning evidence base. This should ensure that much of the baseline data required for future plan development and monitoring of future marine plans will already be available to the MMO. A secondary purpose of collecting national data will be to allow for comparison between areas with a marine plan, and areas without one.

You can view baseline data collected for plan monitoring (PDF, 117 KB, 3 pages). Where available, the MMO has sought to gather historical data for 5 years prior to plan adoption in order to understand trends over time. This will allow us to evaluate any deviation from an existing trend, rather than just measuring change from one year to the next.

Additional baseline information

The MMO also collates a significant amount of evidence during plan development which aligns closely with some of the indicators identified for monitoring. This evidence can be viewed in the following reports:

Published 11 June 2014
Last updated 9 March 2015 + show all updates
  1. East inshore and East offshore marine plan areas Statement of Public Participation (SPP) added

  2. Baseline data table for monitoring the East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans updated

  3. More information about implementation and monitoring added

  4. First published.