1. What will a National Marine Plan do?

The Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP) will set out the Welsh Minister's policies for the sustainable development of Wales’ seas. The Plan will help manage increasing demands for the use of our marine environment, encourage and support the economic development of marine sectors at appropriate locations and incorporate environmental protection and social considerations into marine decision making.

  1. Why is a National Marine Plan needed?

There has been growing consensus in recent years for improved management of our valuable marine natural resources. The Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) requires Welsh Ministers as the planning authority for the Welsh inshore and offshore area to introduce plans setting out policies for sustainable development following the adoption of a UK Marine Policy Statement.

  1. What does a WNMP mean for Wales?

The plan encourages better management of the seas and aims to ensure sustainable economic growth (blue growth), and to deliver environmental and societal objectives. A sustainable approach to managing our marine environment will ensure its natural resources are available for both current and future generations to benefit from.

  1. Who will develop the WNMP?

Welsh Ministers are the marine planning authority and Welsh Government  is responsible for implementing and developing the first WNMP in consultation with marine stakeholders and other areas of Government.

  1. How will a National Marine Plan relate to terrestrial planning?

The WNMP will sit alongside and interact with existing planning regimes and will be consistent with strategic priorities set out in the National Development Framework on land. The WNMP area will physically overlap with terrestrial planning Local Development Plan boundaries to ensure marine and terrestrial planning work together.

  1. What area does the WNMP cover?

The WNMP extends from Mean High Water Spring (MHWS) tide to cover the inshore and offshore (>>12nm Welsh offshore plan region). Local Authority jurisdiction is from the mean low water mark landwards so the two planning regimes overlap.

  1. Will the WNMP apply to reserved (ie UK) as well as devolved activities?

Yes, we intend to plan for reserved activities in Wales’ seas. The WNMP will be guided by the UK Marine Policy Statement which has been created and adopted by the UK and devolved administrations. It will facilitate an integrated approach to marine planning across the UK. We will work with the UK Government to agree the WNMP for reserved functions in relation to Welsh seas.

  1. Does the plan introduce new statutory responsibilities?

No but the plan must be taken into account in by relevant public authorities in their decision making.  All pre existing bodies will continue to undertake their own delivery responsibilities.

  1. Will existing users of the sea be able to continue their activities?

There is a presumption of use in the marine environment, subject to specific processes such as marine licences. The presumption of use will continue but the WNMP provides direction on what we want to achieve for the marine area. It will help inform decision making, direct key activities, resolve conflict  and promote co-existence where  activities overlap.

  1. Does the National Marine Plan only apply to industries such as renewable energy and aggregate extraction?

The plan has been developed for all users of the sea, including the energy sectors (including oil and gas), fishing,  tourism and recreational users, ports and harbours, aquaculture and transport. It also contains ‘general policies’ for example, marine ecosystem and marine historic environment policies to ensure protection of our natural and historic environments are taken into account when decisions are being made.

  1. Will there be a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the National Marine Plan?

Yes. A Sustainability Appraisal, which includes a Strategic Environmental Assessment, has been undertaken to inform development.

  1. What information will be used to develop the National Marine Plan?

The Wales Marine Evidence Report provides a coherent evidence base to inform the development of the WNMP. This will be updated regularly. Wider evidence as well as information and comments from marine interests will also be considered.

An online marine planning portal showing the uses and activities that occur in the Welsh Marine Area is also available.

  1. Who will use the National Marine Plan?

The Marine Plan will primarily be used by public authorities taking decisions which affect or might affect the marine area. It will also be used by anyone who has an interest in the marine area, including those bringing forward proposals and stakeholders who wish to comment on such proposals. We have established a Marine Planning Decision Makers Group (MPDMG) to help relevant authorities understand how to take decisions in line with the plan.

  1. When will the Marine Plan come into effect?

When it is published in final form and adopted.

  1. Is the Marine Plan content fixed?

The marine planning authority must keep the plan under review. Welsh Government has a statutory duty to review and report on the effectiveness of the plan every 3 years and to report on its intentions every 6 years.

Getting involved

The involvement of those with an interest in and responsibility for the marine area has been central to the development of the Marine Plan, as set out in the Statement of Public Participation (SPP). You can also sign up to our newsletter to be kept informed of progress on a regular basis. We encourage anyone with an interest in marine planning to get in touch.