The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is pleased to announce the first South West Inshore and Offshore Marine Plan was adopted by the Secretary of State in June 2021 by the Right Hon. George Eustice MP, Secretary of State, Defra. The North East, North West and South East Marine Plans were also adopted.

England now has a complete and integrated marine planning framework to manage how we use, develop, protect and enhance our marine environment. Marine plans which cover a 20 year period address the key issues for the area, setting a vision and objectives. Detailed policies set out how these will be achieved and how issues will be managed or mitigated. The policies inform decision-making for any activity or development which is in or impacts on a marine area.

The South West Marine Plan, which was produced by the MMO on behalf of Defra, is the culmination of four years of engagement and policy development and will guide developers, planning authorities and other decision-makers so that their activities happen in a sustainable and coordinated way.

They follow the introduction of the East and South Marine Plans in 2014 and 2018 respectively, and expand the coverage of such plans to encompass all of England’s seas, an area of approximately 230,000 square kilometres and a third larger than the total land area of England. Detailed maps of the English Marine Plan areas can be found at GOV.UK and Explore Marine Plans.

South Marine Plan Three Year Report

The MMO also is pleased to announce that the first Three-Year Report for the South Marine Plan was published by Defra in July 2021.

It is important that Marine Plans are regularly assessed and therefore they are monitored and reviewed every three years. The publication of the South Marine Plan Three Year Report marks the conclusion of over 12 months of work in gathering data, analysing the findings and reporting on the effectiveness, and effects, of the plan policies, including the wider changes in context.

The Report discusses the progress that has been made in meeting the aims and objectives of the South Inshore and Offshore Marine Plan and the UK Marine Policy Statement. The inshore area has a coastline that stretches from Folkestone in Kent to the river Dart in Devon. The offshore area covers from 12 nautical miles out to the maritime borders with France and the Channel Islands.

The Report identified that whilst the policy landscape has changed since 2018, the Plan remains relevant and broadly aligned with national and local priorities. Positive progress has also been made towards embedding the Plan within the decision-making process. Similarly, the Report shows positive findings regarding the implementation of the Plan, with signs that many of the specific plan policies are having their intended effect.

The Right Hon. George Eustice MP agreed with the MMOs recommendation that the South Marine Plan is to be retained and not amended at this time.

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