The Marine Management Organisation announces the next phase of English marine plans, along with updates on the South and East Marine Plans

Marine plans set the priorities and direction for future development within estuaries and marine waters.

They contain policies which authorities must make their decisions in accordance with when considering applications for development.

Policies may affect proposals for maintenance or expansion of recreational boating facilities and they will also control other kinds of development where it is likely to impact on other uses of the sea, such as recreational boating.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) says as we approach the two year mark since the East Marine Plan was published, the Marine Management Organisation is changing the way they develop the remaining plans in England in order to meet its deadline of 2021.

South Marine Plan – preparing for public consultation

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is keen to get the South Marine Plan out to public consultation, however delays during the Government approval process have meant that publication of the consultation has been put back from the initial target of Spring 2016.

Publicity restrictions in the lead up to the EU referendum mean that it is likely that the consultation will start in early summer. More details will be sent out in the coming months and we’ll be sure to keep our members informed on developments.

Starting the next phase of marine plans

The MMO is starting the next phase of preparing the remaining marine plans for England – developing plans for the north east, south east, south west and north west marine areas and have recently announced that they will take a different approach to marine planning going forward.

Firstly, in a change to the development of plans to date, the MMO will be developing all the remaining plans simultaneously.

By incorporating the revised timeline with lessons learned, economies of scale and knowledge of some of the issues that affect all marine areas from developing the plans so far, the MMO hope to speed up the planning process and complete all the remaining plans by the tight deadline of 2021.

Secondly, they will be taking a less linear and more flexible approach to how the plans are developed. To do this the MMO will be looking at all aspects of a marine plan together, so they can develop the structure and the content of each plan more quickly and therefore share them at an earlier stage, including annual reviews.

Protecting recreational boating

The RYA is working to ensure that marine plans recognise the importance and value of recreational boating activity along coast and the inherent benefits it brings to coastal communities.

We are working to ensure that policies are put in place to protect and improve recreational boating, and that any policies which may affect the development of recreational boating facilities are proportionate, evidence based and enforceable.

Marine plans can benefit recreational boating by providing clarity on decision making in the coastal zone, reducing uncertainty and enabling developers to assess at an early stage where recreational boating activity takes place, such as important navigational routes, club/training centre facilities or cruising and racing areas, enabling schemes to be designed in a compatible way.

However, marine plans should not increase regulatory burdens on the maintenance or improvement of recreational boating facilities and should ensure that existing activity is protected from development proposals.

East Inshore and East Offshore marine plan areas

The East Inshore and East Offshore marine plan areas were the first two marine plan areas to be selected in England

Get involved

The RYA says boaters should engage with the marine planning process in their area to ensure the importance and value of recreational boating is recognised.

The MMO will be starting the next phase of marine planning very soon, with public consultations on the statements of public participation (which sets out how and when they will be engaging with stakeholders) and the sustainability appraisal scoping report (which will scope the potential impacts of the plan) for the marine plan areas beginning in April.

This will also include a number of events taking place across the plan areas in the weeks of the 11 and 18 April – more information will be published in the next few days.

If you would like to speak with your local MMO marine planning officer in the new plan areas you can contact them on:

To find out more about how each country is developing their marine plans and to learn about how the RYA is working to represent the interests of recreational boaters, visit

For further information, email