The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has responsibility for preparing marine plans for the English inshore and offshore regions according to the policies and objectives set out in the Marine Policy Statement (MPS). Marine Plans will be given effect by their statutory status and delivered through the decisions made under them. As set out in the Marine and Coastal Access Act, all public authorities taking authorisation or enforcement decisions that affect or might affect the UK marine area must do so in accordance with marine policy documents (the MPS and relevant Marine Plans) unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. There are two levels in the marine planning system: the Marine Policy Statement at a UK level and marine plans at national and sub-national level.
Marine plans will inform and guide marine users and regulators, managing the sustainable development of marine industries, such as wind farms, shipping, marine aggregates and fishing, alongside the need to conserve and protect marine species and habitats and recognise leisure uses too.
The South Inshore and South Offshore areas includes a coastline that stretches from Folkestone to the River Dart. The MMO officially began plan preparation in early 2013. Defra recommend that Coastal Partnerships’ such as the Solent Forum should be used to assist with stakeholder engagement for the marine plan areas.
The European Commission has published a roadmap for martime spatial planning across the Community. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires each Member State to achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ in the marine area by 2021 at the latest. In the UK, the planning system will be an important vehicle for delivering obligations under the MSFD. Marine Policy Statement (MPS) and marine plans will steer the actions of public authorities so that they deliver the Directive’s requirements.