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UK Marine Policy Statement

Volume 525: debated on Friday 18 March 2011

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the devolved Administrations are publishing the UK Marine Policy Statement (MPS). I am placing copies in the House Libraries.

The MPS forms a key element of the coalition Government’s programme for implementing the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (the Act). The MPS is UK-wide and has been developed jointly with officials in the devolved Administrations. The Act provides for the introduction of marine planning in UK waters for the first time and the MPS is the first step in this new marine planning system.

The MPS is defined by the requirements placed on it by the Act with the overall aim of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. The MPS is the decision-making framework for the UK marine area and guides the development of marine plans and marine licensing decisions across the UK. The aim of the MPS is to ensure the necessary consistency and coherence across the UK in the way we manage our seas, while providing the flexibility for marine plans to reflect the characteristics and needs of different marine areas. The MPS therefore covers all major activities and sectors in our seas from renewable energy to nature conservation and from fishing to tourism. It sets the policy context and direction in each of these areas and the considerations that must be given to each activity in the development of marine plans or when decisions that may affect the marine area are taken. By bringing together the wealth of policy objectives for the marine area, and by setting out in one place the breadth of the legislation that exists for the marine environment, the MPS will provide clarity for regulators, developers and all those with an interest in our marine environment, a clarity which will be built on with the development and adoption of marine plans.

The draft MPS was laid in Parliament on 21 July 2010 and the final version takes on board comments made during parliamentary scrutiny. In accordance with the Act, we have produced a document summarising the differences between the draft consultation version of the MPS and the final version being published today.

The MPS was developed with an appraisal of sustainability (incorporating a strategic environmental assessment). A post-adoption statement has been published in accordance with the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) directive explaining how sustainability considerations have been integrated into the MPS. In addition to these documents, the MPS is supported by a habitats regulations assessment, an equality impact assessment screening report and an impact assessment. The documents have taken into account comments from stakeholders, especially during public consultation last year.

Published copies of the MPS, the post-adoption statement and the document summarising the differences between the draft and final versions of the MPS will be placed in the House Libraries. Electronic copies of these documents are available of the official documents website: http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/. The other documents can be found on the DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk.

My Department also published a description of the marine planning system for England. This document, together with the MPS, represents a package of action that the Government are taking to improve the management of our seas.