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Marine Management Organisation

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

I am pleased to announce that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will vest on 1 April 2010 as an executive non-departmental public body.

The MMO has been established by the Marine and Coastal Access Act, and will act as the UK Government’s principal delivery body in the marine area in the waters around England and in the UK offshore area for matters that are not devolved and its centre of marine management expertise. The MMO will bring together a number of marine management activities from across Government, as well as delivering new marine planning, licensing and nature conservation functions created by the Act. This represents a real opportunity to provide an identifiable focus on marine matters and will make a contribution to achieving sustainable development by bringing together delivery of a number of marine functions within a single independent body, enabling integrated implementation of Government policy for the marine area.

The MMO will contribute to the Government’s Public Service Agreement (PSA28)

“to secure a healthy environment in which we and future generations can prosper”.

Its main areas of responsibility will encompass:

delivering an integrated system of marine planning;

delivering a streamlined, transparent and consistent system for licensing marine activities and developments;

contributing to conserving natural resources, eco-systems and species, including the development of marine protected areas;

modernisation and streamlining of the management and regulation of England’s marine fisheries; and

contributing to responses, relationships and returns to the EU and international bodies.

In delivering the functions above, the MMO will work closely with a wide range of UK Government Departments with a policy interest in the marine area—the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Communities and Local Government (CLG), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The MMO will also deliver specific operational functions on behalf of DEFRA, DfT and DECC.

The MMO also has a requirement to manage its functions with the overarching objective of making a real contribution to the achievement of sustainable development in the marine area and in the wider context. I will issue the MMO guidance on how it should discharge its functions with regard to this objective, and a draft of this guidance will be laid in Parliament.

The organisation will be directed by an independent chair (Christopher Parry) and board, and led by a chief executive (Steven Gant). The MMO will have net operating costs in 2010-11 of £32.3 million. It consists of a headquarters office located in Newcastle, and a network of 18 coastal offices.

I announced on 12 February 2009 that the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) would be subsumed into the new body and that it would cease to be a separate Executive Agency. The remit and functions of the MFA will continue to be delivered within the wider remit of the MMO.

Stakeholders will receive the same professional services they currently receive from the MFA. As the MMO develops I expect to see stakeholders gain further benefit because the MMO will deliver:

a coherent, transparent delivery body for independently reconciling conflicting demands and pressures in the marine area including through the introduction of a new, integrated system of marine planning;

a modernised, accessible and streamlined licensing system, leading to structural efficiencies and savings;

a comprehensive approach to the formulation and implementation of policy in the marine area across Government;

an authoritative hub for information exchange and research in the marine area, providing access to its own data and an expert on what other sources are available;

a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and partnership in the marine area providing a single focus for marine management issues; and

the positioning of the UK as the internationally recognised leader in marine management.

Since the Marine and Coastal Access Act received Royal Assent on 12 November 2009, my officials have been working to put in place the necessary legislation to commence and transfer appropriate powers and duties to the MMO to ensure that it is operational from 1 April. This began with the first Commencement Order which came into force on 12 January 2010, establishing the MMO as a body corporate, and is being followed by further Commencement Orders and mechanisms to transfer functions to the MMO. These will come into effect on 1 April.

The new marine planning function and streamlined licensing regime are currently either under consultation or in development and will come on stream after vesting. Current timetabling anticipates the new licensing regime to be operational from spring 2011, and marine plan areas to be agreed in that timeframe also which will enable the MMO to prioritise and begin work on this first marine plan.

Further details of the MMO’s role and responsibilities are given in its corporate documents: the Framework Document, the Corporate Plan 2010-11 to 2012-13, and the Business Plan 2010-11. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be published on the MMO’s website: