Background and methodology
The WNMP sets out the Welsh Government’s marine planning policy in relation to the sustainable development of Wales’ marine plan area. The WNMP was adopted and published on 12 November 2019. The survey respondents were organisations and individuals involved in marine planning in addition to businesses in the marine industry.
The aim of this survey was to gather information on awareness of the WNMP in the sector. It also sought to gather information of awareness and use of guidance and tools to support marine planning. Welsh Government intends to carry out an additional User Survey within the next three years. This will enable Welsh Government to capture trends in the awareness and use of the WNMP and its supporting marine planning guidance and tools, as well as users’ views on how the WNMP is performing in terms of achievement of its objectives.
The Marine Planning team in Welsh Government commissioned the Sustainable Futures research team in Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government to undertake a User Survey. This initial User Survey, which has been conducted only a year after WNMP publication, is designed to establish some initial contextual information to inform future monitoring. The User Survey was targeted at stakeholders from across the marine sector.
Due to the low response rates to this User Survey (25 respondents), the findings should be considered indicative of the recent publication of the WNMP only. All questions were optional, resulting in a very low number of responses to some questions.The responses to the User Survey have enabled us to establish a baseline on the awareness and use of the WNMP to inform wider monitoring and reporting.
Awareness of the Welsh National Marine Plan
Of those who responded to this survey, there was an even split between those who reported having ‘Low’ and ‘High’ levels of awareness of the WNMP (eight out of 25). Almost a quarter (six out of 25) reported a ‘Medium’ level of awareness, and three out of 25 reported ‘no awareness’.
Respondents with at least a low level of awareness were asked where they heard about the WNMP. Over half of respondents (12 out of 25) reported hearing about the plan through an internal email in their workplace. The second most common response was ‘Through a Welsh Government Marine Planning Stakeholder group’ (seven out of 25).
Use of Welsh National Marine Management Plan
When asked whether their organisation had used the WNMP, almost three in five (13 out of 23) responded that they had, compared with six out of 22 who said they had not.
When asked whether the WNMP had been a factor in considering a number of objectives in relation to effective marine management. ‘Need for proportionate, consistent decision making which integrates marine and terrestrial policy and takes account of cross border issues where appropriate’ (nine out of 22 respondents) and ‘Management of multiple uses of the Welsh marine area, either through coexistence or sector safeguarding’ (nine out of 22) were the objectives to which respondents most frequently responded strongly agree and agree.
Respondents were asked whether their organisation had been involved in developing and/or submitting a proposal to a formal decision-making process within the WNMP area. A third of respondents (six out of 13) stated that they had and 12 out of 18 responded that they had not. Those who responded ‘Yes’ were asked in what capacity they had done this. The majority responded in an advisory body capacity, with a small number of other responses, including as a stakeholder and as an applicant.
Respondents were then asked what other resources they had used alongside the WNMP. The most common responses to this question were the Welsh Government Marine Planning website and the WNMP Implementation Guidance (both at nine out of 19 respondents)
Participants were then asked to report the reasons for which they had used the Wales Marine Planning Portal. The most common response to this was ‘To find information and evidence on the Welsh Marine Area’ with three quarters of respondents (nine out of 12) selecting this response.
The majority of respondents (22 out of 25) had some awareness of the WNMP, with 14 out of 25 having a ‘medium’ or ‘high’ level of awareness. This indicates that communication of the WNMP is working effectively.
Almost three fifths of respondents (13 out of 22) reported that their organisation has used the WNMP. This indicates that there is a good level of engagement with the WNMP with organisations actively using the Plan, though there is room for some improvement on this.
This survey was intended as the first of several surveys to gather information on awareness of the WNMP and how it is being used. It has provided a baseline with this information. Welsh Government should carry out a further survey in this first three year monitoring period. This will allow for trends in the use of the WNMP and its supporting materials to be captured. This will also allow for users’ views on the effectiveness of WNMP policies to inform wider monitoring and reporting.
Report Authors: Isabella Malet-Lambert
Views expressed in this report are those of the researchers and not necessarily those of the Welsh Government.
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Social research number: 65/2021
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