Marine Planning

Offshore gasOffshore gas rig - Chris Cook

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 brought in a new planning system for the seas, as well as better controls on industry at sea. Marine planning aims to identify all of the different activities that take place in the sea so that these activities can be integrated into plan policies that take into account their environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits.

Due to the complex three dimensional nature of the marine environment, marine plans are somewhat different to those on land. The very first regional marine plan was for the East area, incorporating the sea area between Flamborough Head and Felixstowe, which was adopted in April 2014. The Wildlife Trusts inputted into the marine planning process by placing environmental considerations at the heart of the plan.The Souith marine plans are currently being drawn up and will be consulted on shortly. All other marine plan areas will now be prepared at the same time and are in the initial stages of the process.

By continuing our work with marine planning, The Wildlife Trusts’ will achieve our vision of 'Living Seas' where wildlife and habitats are recovering from past declines as our use of the seas’ resources becomes environmentally sustainable.

The interactive Marine Information System explains how marine plans apply to different marine sectors and geographic areas and is a useful tool for stakeholders.

Offshore Wind

Offshore wind farm developments are currently playing a big part in the government’s ambitions to achieve their renewable energy targets. Wind farms consist of large wind turbines that convert wind energy into electricity. Offshore wind is more frequent and powerful than that available on land. Therefore offshore wind farms can harness more energy than onshore wind farms and with greater reliability. Offshore wind farms are now being planned on a huge scale, with some projects consisting of hundreds of turbines.

Windfram - Robin Cosgrove

                                                       Offshore windfram - Robin Cosgrove

The first large scale operational offshore wind farm in the UK was North Hoyle in Liverpool Bay in 2003. Since then the UK has seen the construction of 24 offshore wind farms and a number of others that are in construction or have been given planning permission. Within the Wildlife Trusts’ North Sea project area there are 26 offshore wind farms either operational, in construction or that are planned for development.

As with any developments, wind farms will have impacts on the environment. Therefore, developments are required to undergo an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to determine the impacts upon wildlife, habitats and marine users and mitigation will be suggested to reduce negative impacts. The Wildlife Trusts engage with developers right through the planning application process, to ensure that negative environmental impacts are minimised.

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