Annex to the report on changes to the South Marine Plan

Following on from our report on the South Marine Plan becoming law, we have made further analysis of the detail.  In brief the changes on which SPS may have had some influence would seem to be:

  1. Vision amended to be more relevant to SMP area. (Vision)
  2. More information on the Coastal Concordant. This may relate to our concern that local authority boundaries in the Solent did not meet up. (General considerations)
  3. Additional text on monitoring. (We had suggested 3 years was too frequent)
  4. Wording on aquaculture to define it as ‘sustainable’ not just any aquaculture. (Obj 1)
  5. No restriction on dredging for ports and harbours. We were concerned there should be no extraction in the Solent. (Obj 1)
  6. Wording to make clear that land based infrastructure must be ‘appropriate’. (Obj 2)
  7. Wording on employment to make clear the skills and activities to be supported. (Obj 4)
  8. The words ‘enhance and promote’ related to Marine Protected Areas. We had been concerned that these do not displace traditional use so may be the reverse of our comment, though from an ecological point of view we would support it. (Obj 5)
  9. Climate change defined as ‘greenhouse gas emissions.’ We had asked for clarification in the technical annex. (Obj 7)
  10. We had asked for the view from the sea to be specifically stated however the wording has not been changed. (Obj 9)
  11. MPAs. Wording added to ‘enhance and promote’ and to ensure boundaries can be changed until such time as all Marine Conservation Zones are confirmed. (Obj 10)
  12. Reference to the government’s litter strategy added. (Obj 11)
  13. Some ‘enhance’ text added on biodiversity though no specific mention of salt marshes as we had suggested. (Obj 12)
  14. Support for re-use of material. (Obj 12)
  15. More emphasis on water quality and moved to be under Obj 11 to add weight. (Obj 12)
  16. More strength and clarification given on the use of the hierarchical format of a) to c) or d). for each policy. We were concerned that the weighting appeared equal and in certain cases considered more emphasis should be given to avoid.

The South Marine Plan finally becomes law

In July 2018 the government finally approved the draft South Marine Plan (SMP) on which The Solent Protection Society (SPS) and many others had commented in early 2017 and which was covered in last year’s newsletter.1.1 South Marine Plan PHOTO of Southampton Docks

With the final plan, the Marine Management Organisation also published a Modifications report, setting out the changes that had been made in the light of the comments made.

Overall, as expected, there has been no significant change to the 12 main objectives or the 50+ individual policies. There has, however, been a change in emphasis or clarification on about 20 of the policies and on 7 of the general principles such as the Vision and the relationship to land based plans.

Eighty one organisations or individuals commented, generating over 1500 comments. Of these 81 organisations, some 50% came from 21 local authorities, 12 Ports and Shipping and 9 NGOs. We assume SPS was counted as an NGO but no breakdown is given.

We were asked to agree, or agree with comment, or disagree, with the 75 questions asked about the objectives and policies. Overall the percentage of respondents answering yes, no or no comment showed 58% agreed, 18% agreed subject to comment, 6% disagreed and 18 % gave no response.

In SPS’s case we agreed with 43% of the policies and commented on 57%. We did not disagree with any, nor did we not respond to any question.

This perhaps reflects the fact SPS has a broad range of interests in the SMP area, whereas many organisations are from a particular sector and focus. For example, referring to the second reference below, it is not clear exactly what the pie chart is showing… is it the % of respondents or the % of questions answered in a particular way.  So did we have any influence?

It is difficult to say as there is no direct correlation and the modifications report does not show the exact changes to wording on each policy. This requires a detailed-reading of the final Plan itself and the Technical Annex.

We had sought to make the vision more relevant to the Solent area and while supporting aquaculture we did not want a free for all. In both cases there have been changes of emphasis.

Other policies on which we may have helped to get a change in emphasis related to land based infrastructure, support for small scale marine industries, litter prevention, bio diversity and water quality.

The South Marine Plan is now an important consideration for both Marine Licence applications and land-based planning applications on the coastline of the UK. Any application must be judged against the policies in the plan and if it cannot comply fully, must demonstrate how it mitigates the impact. If this is insufficient then it is likely to be refused.

Judgement on Marine Licence applications falls to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in consultation with various statutory bodies and government departments. The public can also comment, although the process of finding out about applications is not as easy as it should be.

Within its area of concern SPS now monitors all applications monthly and more information can be found elsewhere on this site.

The South Marine Plan can be found at this link.

The Modifications report can be viewed by selecting this link.