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Coastal futures 2016

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Coastal Futures represents the task facing marine planning.Its delegates are passionate, informed and motivated – but also from a wide range of organisations dealing with and managing a wide range of issues. They show how many different and varied opinions, expertise and expectations that need to be considered in marine planning.

The importance for marine planning

Being here highlights the importance and great need for marine planning – for its development, implementation and review. And, it shows how central marine planning is to the whole marine agenda. You can take any talk from the two day conference and relate it to marine planning – from  discussions on climate change to the socio- economics of MPAs to flood risk management.

Why marine planning is so important

Day two of the conference started with presentations and discussions on marine planning. With only 15 minutes each to talk, we (myself, the Welsh Government and ABPmer) gave a whistle stop tour of what has happened so far since the Marine and Coastal Access Act was passed in 2009 in England and Wales – and the achievements are by no means small.

ABPmer’s Steve Hull summarised why marine planning is so important and what it brings to the marine agenda:

  • Better information – it builds a stronger evidence base and maps out the intricate and interdependent ecosystems within our marine environment
  • Better integration of approach and process bringing people together to one coherent objective
  • Better clarity on decision making – industry and NGOs have greater certainty on licencing and regulation
Tourist enjoying beautiful scenery at the Jurassic Coast, Dorset,
Tourist enjoying beautiful scenery at the Jurassic Coast, Dorset,


It was clear that all UK marine planning authorities have made great progress.  However, it’s when you look at the remaining work that you start to get a real understanding of the challenge ahead.  There is much still to do for marine plans to make, and evidence, a real difference.  It also demonstrates the growing importance of this work, especially its role in bringing together the sometimes disparate agendas of marine conservation and the ‘Blue Growth’ agenda.

Marine planning is not easy

Marine planning is not easy – it’s a big task and we all must work together to achieve it – to take it from being a concept and a process to being an integral part of any marine development in the same way we do for planning on land.

We are not daunted by the task, indeed, and most importantly, it is a great opportunity. It brings a common agenda and a chance to genuinely achieve sustainable development of our seas through marrying the environmental need for conservation with social considerations and the economic need for Blue Growth.

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