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New Marine Plans Ensure Sustainable Future for UK Seas

03 April 2014

UK - The seas surrounding the UK are vitally important to our nation, stated Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

"Our marine economy is currently worth more than £47 billion a year and has the potential to grow significantly. The marine environment is also home to over 8000 species, including some of the world’s most important seabird populations, which we must protect for future generations," said Mr Paterson.

"Over the years UK seas have become increasingly busy, with industries such as oil and gas, wind farms, shipping, aggregates and fishing competing for space with each other and with nature, while the coast is a popular destination for leisure and tourism. In response the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 introduced marine planning to ensure a sustainable future for our seas.

"The first step was the adoption of the UK-wide Marine Policy Statement, which provides the framework for UK marine plans and for decisions likely to affect the marine area. Marine plans will inform and guide decisions by regulators managing the development of industry in marine and coastal areas, while conserving and enhancing the environment. Alongside the work in England, plans are also being developed in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

"Marine plans will provide certainty and clarity for developers by indicating areas to consider or avoid – saving time and money. Developers will also be able to use the plans to guide their applications, which will help investments become operational more quickly, so that they contribute to the economy earlier. The boundary between land and sea is the focus of many activities and marine planning will help facilitate an integrated and holistic approach to the planning and management of coastal areas, contributing to the economic regeneration and development of local communities.

"The adoption of England’s first two marine plans, for the East Inshore and East Offshore marine areas, is a significant milestone and the culmination of years of work by Government, industry, NGOs and individuals. These plans, however, are only the beginning. The Government is committed to developing eleven marine plans, covering all of England’s seas by 2021.

"We have learned many lessons from preparing these first plans and will learn more as we implement them. This will guide the preparation of future plans, which we expect will provide more locally specific detailed guidance than has been possible to date.

"I would like to thank the Marine Management Organisation for their concerted efforts to develop marine planning in England. Marine planning is participatory planning in action and many people and organisations have contributed their expertise and local knowledge in the preparation of the East marine plans. I very much appreciate their involvement and I hope that they will continue to work with the Marine Management Organisation as it prepares and implements further marine plans around England.

"It is important that the East Inshore and Offshore marine plans have cross-Government support and I am therefore particularly grateful to my fellow Ministers in Communities and Local Government, Defence, Energy and Climate Change and Transport for their advice and support during the planning process.

"We can all be proud that, with the publication of the East Inshore and Offshore marine plans, England is one of the first countries in the world to introduce such a comprehensive and integrated approach to the management of its marine area.

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