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Development of practical tools to support the new marine planning system - ME1420

The Marine Bill will introduce a marine planning system (a marine policy statement and series of marine plans) in UK waters for the first time that promises to make the most use of our marine space, setting clear and long term objectives for the sustainable management of the marine area; maximising the potential of some activities, at the same time safeguarding the future of others.

The new marine planning system will move us from the mostly reactive (licensing) system we have now to one that is more proactive and resourceful to the needs of its uses. The system will allow us to be “forward thinking” about the way we plan ahead to achieve our sustainable objectives in the marine area; a system where plans are created that consider all the relevant activities in an area and where decisions are based on reliable scientific data and real evidence on the impacts of those activities on each other and on the environment.

Therefore the objective of this project proposal is to develop a set of tools that the MMO can use to help them with practical decision making through the planning process. The focus will be on developing multiple use tools that have a spatial component, which use data and apply processes to achieve specific outcomes such as address cumulative and in-combination effects between competing activities and therefore at the same time develop possible scenarios for the future activity of sectors in plans. This could also include opportunities for conflict planning and for prioritising efficient use of marine space to some activities to achieve a particular purpose (covered at objective C).

The research approach for developing the methods comprise:

Description of state of the art practical planning tools,
Collation of standardized geodata,
Development of a framework for the assessment of cumulative impacts of human pressures,
A review on spatial management tools,
Development of a possible framework for a full sustainability appraisal of a plan
and scenario testing of the developed risk and impact assessments.

Practical examples such as maps will be used throughout to demonstrate how each of these tools could be utilised in plans. This will allow regulators and other stakeholders operating in the marine environment to gain a better understanding of how the tools can be used to achieve different objectives.

The main outputs of this work are tools for practical planning use. If the tools prove fit for purpose, they will be recommended to the MMO as products for everyday use.

Work to identify a range of tools will also guide the MMO on other aspects of the planning process such as:
• analysis of multiple data sets on a regional planning scale;
• conflict analysis between activities
• identification of necessary management tools

The project proposal recognises that marine planning is a high priority topic for the UK government, and that the policy on marine planning is still evolving. As such it will be guided by policy staff through a steering group to ensure that the resources are allocated to the most pressing and useful tasks.

Data gathered as part of this research will also be used by Defra and its conservation agencies as part of the criteria for selecting the network of Marine Protected Areas for UK waters by 2010. The project also builds in links with current Defra/Marine Management Organisation projects for marine data capture and development of a GIS system.

This work also goes some way to helping the UK meet commitments made to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic Commission (known as the OSPAR convention) with regard to better management and protection of human activities which may affect the marine environment. The work also provides an opportunity to help influence the general direction other EU approaches may take with marine planning, in line with the Marine Strategy Directive and its aim to achieve good envirornmental status of the EU`s marine waters by 2021.
Project Documents
• Final Report : ME1420: FInal Report Development of practical tools to support the new marine planning system   (460k)
• Information Leaflet : Managing our seas in a sustainable manner – what tools do we need?   (317k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2009

Cost: £210,787
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environmental Protection              
Marine conservation              
Fields of Study
Environmental Protection - Marine