Marine spatial planning
As we use our seas and coasts more and more –
for leisure or for economic reasons – the pressure on and the
threat to the natural environment will also grow.
Many activities along our coast are regulated. However, as there
are various sectors involved with different aspects of managing our
seas and coasts, there is currently no co-ordinated planning system
for the UK’s seas and for developing these regulations.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is therefore a way to carry out
co-ordinated forward planning. Governments are now beginning to
recognise the potential of this wider, longer term approach as a
means to manage conflicting uses of the sea, the effects of human
activities and marine protection.
Implementing MSP raises a number of questions. These
- How will MSP relate to licensing and consenting?
- How will the planning process be managed?
- Who will have overall responsibility?
Liverpool Bay trial MSP
Liverpool Bay served as a Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs (DEFRA) pilot area for a marine spatial plan. Among
its conclusions, this pilot project found that MSP:
- should be a statutory system;
- should be implemented at a regional scale with co-operation
between devolved administrations;
- plan for a 20 year period, subject to review every five
The UK Government is currently considering MSP and these
conclusions will form part of the process.