SPS attend Marine Plan Workshop

Marine Plan Consultation

The meeting, organised by Solent Forum at the behest of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), was held in Portsmouth on the 8th October

Two members of the SPS council attended this workshop which was run for the Marine Management Organisation by Solent Forum. It was the second workshop in a series being held during the development of the South Inshore and South Offshore Marine Plans and the main reason for the day was for the MMO team to gain the maximum amount of information on all aspects of the area from the delegates.   Mike Clark, chairman of Solent Forum,  was in the Chair and the MMO team was led by Paul Gilliland.

The governing documents behind the Marine Plan are

the latter being the more relevant.

The South Marine Plans area covers the coast from Dartmouth to Dover and out as far as the median line with France.   Although the Marine and Coastal Access Act envisages both inshore and offshore plans, the MMO have produced the East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans within the same document.  Considering the short distance from shore to mid-Channel, it is likely that they will do the same for the South Marine Plans.

Delegates had been asked to read the South Plans Analytical Report (SPAR) document, , and to identify gaps in the MMO’s knowledge.  SPAR is currently out for consultation until November 1st  so there is time to respond individually   The SPS team were surprised at the apparent lack of local knowledge in certain areas, and it was evident that much of the MMO data came from desktop studies of local authority documents and statistics.

The focus of the day was on economic and social issues.  There were delegates from EA, NE, Wildlife Trusts etc. but the day was not aimed at them and one must assume that EA and NE had given their evidence interdepartmentally.

Additional data  about the area can be sourced via the MMO Portal

Some points made by the MMO
  • The Marine Plan would deal only with larger scale issues, such as gravel extraction and IFCA fishing areas, as well as general policy issues. The MMO would not get involved in Local Authority issues such as eroding sea walls and kite surfing.  They are looking for robust evidence at appropriate resolution (or scale). The Marine Plan will work within the existing legal framework of IMO, UN, EU and other appropriate legislation, international or UK.  Due to the multi faceted elements which make up a Marine Plan, any Marine Plan has to be signed off by all Government Departments, not just Defra.
  • The Marine Plans would stand for 20 years and would be updated every three years.  This would involve a constant update rather than starting from scratch every three years.  They would be informed by the SMPs but would not conform to any of SMP timeframes.
  • There was mention of a Coastal Concord between EA, MMO and LAs to assist in coastal governance and to deal with coastal issues.  This is an attempt to give a “single answer to a single question”, and to short circuit the often time-consuming log jam caused by lack of coordination between LA, EA, NE etc when answering enquiries from the public regarding the coastal and intertidal area.
  • We were told that there was no legal requirement for the MMO to involve stakeholders.

Each subject area had a map on which they had marked known objects eg. Pipelines, military areas, bird reserves, gravel extraction, fishing etc.  We were invited to comment on yellow sticky notelets.  Some of the maps were rather blank to start with but attracted many sticky notelets!

The main SPS concerns were
  • Our main area of concern was the integration  between terrestrial and marine governance in such a complex area.As the day continued it became  clear that the Solent region had need of a  more sophisticated and close relationship between terrestrial and marine governance than in less complex areas and open coastline.  We suggested that MMO should consider a Solent Marine Plan nested within the South Marine Plan.
  • Lack of data and general knowledge of the area:  It will be interesting to find out just how much general knowledge of the area they have got from this series of workshops.
  • Recreation:   All recreation was shown on one map which included dog walkers, kayakers, water colourists and yachtsmen etc.
  • Yachting: In the Solent the yachting/yacht building/services fraternity is of considerable size and is a significant economic factor. Perhaps this should be regarded both as an industry and as a recreation in the Solent area.   The racing and cruising areas and routes were taken from the RYA report on the subject, and we are suggesting to the RYA that they should provide a more comprehensive map of both racing and cruising areas.
  • Port Master Plans:  Only one of six Port Master Plans includes a recreation plan.  Recreation is becoming an important part of port planning.

SPS will watch this process, trying to make sure that we get a marine plan which clarifies and simplifies.   We do not want to end up with another layer of bureaucracy and associated frustration in an already complex area. Whether this is delivered through a Solent Marine Plan nested in the main one, or not, is irrelevant as long as we get something helpful and workable at the end of the day.