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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Schedule 6: Marine Plans: Preparation and Adoption

887.This schedule sets out the procedure which must be followed when preparing marine plans under section 51.

888.Paragraphs 1 to 3 relate to co-operation, consultation and consistency in planning arrangements made by the different marine plan authorities.

889.Paragraph 1 places duties on marine plan authorities when they decide to prepare a plan to notify “related” planning authorities of their intention to plan. (“Related planning authorities” include the Secretary of State (unless he is the marine plan authority), terrestrial local and regional planning bodies, and other marine plan authorities.)

890.This is so that the other related authorities may consider how they might want to be involved in the planning process and make arrangements for their involvement.

891.Paragraph 2 sets out what must go in a notice to the Secretary of State under paragraph 1. The notice must state whether the marine plan authority (if it is a devolved administration) intends the plan to include provision relating to “retained functions” (defined in section 60 – that is, matters which are not within its devolved competence). If the devolved marine plan authority intends to prepare a plan which is not in conformity with any marine policy statement which governs planning for the marine plan area, it must also state this in its notice to the Secretary of State.

892.The duty to notify the Secretary of State continues whilst a marine plan is being prepared. Sub-paragraph (4) provides that, if the marine plan authority’s intentions change whilst it is preparing the plan, it must send a new notice to the Secretary of State.

893.Paragraph 3 provides that the marine plan authority must also take all reasonable steps to secure compatibility between the new marine plan and other existing marine or terrestrial development plans for “related” areas (that is, areas which adjoin or are adjacent to the area of the proposed marine plan, or which affect, or might be affected by, the area of the proposed marine plan).

894.Paragraph 4 places a duty on the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland to consult other relevant Northern Ireland departments at key stages of the plan preparation process. (See also the note on paragraph 3 of Schedule 5 above.)

895.Paragraphs 5 to 7 then set out the process and requirements relating to the preparation and publication by the marine plan authority of a “Statement of Public Participation” (“SPP”) for the plan. As for the MPS, the SPP must set out how and when the policy authorities intend to involve “interested persons” in the planning process (“interested persons” is defined in paragraph 5(8)). In addition, an SPP for a plan must also make clear the area which is to be planned for, and must invite people to make representations on what the plan should include.

896.An SPP for a plan in the Welsh, Scottish or Northern Ireland offshore regions, or the Welsh inshore region, must state whether the plan is intended to include provision relating to “retained functions” (defined in section 60). If the plan is intended to include such provision, the Secretary of State must be notified and the marine plan authority may not publish the SPP without his consent.

897.If a marine plan authority which had previously proposed to plan without including provision in relation to “retained functions” decides after publication of the SPP that it does want to plan for those matters, it must notify the Secretary of State, revise the SPP (because more “interested persons” will then have an interest), and must then seek the Secretary of State’s agreement before publishing the revised SPP.

898.Again, as for the MPS, an SPP for a plan must contain a timetable for the various stages of preparing the plan, and must also set out how and when representations about the content of the plan or the consultation draft (defined in paragraph 11) should be made.

899.Marine plan authorities must allow a reasonable period of time for each of the stages in the timetable.

900.Marine plan authorities must keep the SPP under review, and must amend it when necessary to address any problems with it and keep it up to date. They must then re-publish it as amended (after securing the Secretary of State’s agreement if they intend to include in a plan provision relating to retained functions ).

901.Marine plan authorities are obliged to take all reasonable steps to comply with the SPP.

902.Paragraph 8 concerns the provision of advice and assistance to the marine plan authority. Sub-paragraph (1) enables the marine plan authority to seek advice and assistance from any body or individual with relevant expertise, whilst sub-paragraph (2) makes clear that the marine plan authority may convene “advisory and consultative groups” to assist it in developing and consulting on a draft marine plan. The marine plan authority would be able to establish new groups, or make use of any existing groups which met its needs.

903.Paragraph 9 sets out a non-exhaustive list of matters to which the marine plan authority must have regard in preparing a marine plan. These include:

  • the requirement that the plan be in conformity with any MPS which governs marine planning for the area;

  • the duties in relation to compatibility with other plans;

  • the likely effect of the marine plan on any area (marine or terrestrial) which is related to the area covered by the plan;

  • the results of the marine plan authority’s review of matters likely to affect the exercise of their functions (see section 54);

  • the SPP;

  • any representations made in response to the SPP about the content of the plan;

  • Any advice received from experts or “advisory and consultative groups”;

  • any other plan prepared by a public or local authority in connection with the management of marine or coastal resources (for example, River Basin Management Plans prepared under the Water Framework Directive(13), Shoreline Management Plans).

  • the powers and duties of the Crown Estate Commissioners.

904.Existing obligations under the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive require that an assessment is made of the environmental impacts of a proposed plan. In addition to this environmental impact assessment, paragraph 10 requires that the marine plan authority carry out a sustainability appraisal of the policies proposed for inclusion in the plan. Sub-paragraph (2) makes clear that the results of the appraisals are to influence which proposals the marine plan authority takes forward – it may proceed with proposals only if the results of the appraisals indicate that it is ‘appropriate’ to do so. Sub-paragraph (3) requires the marine plan authority to produce a report of the results of these appraisals, and sub-paragraph (4) requires that the sustainability appraisal report is published at the same time as the consultation draft.

905.Paragraph 11 sets out the requirements for publication of the “consultation draft” of a marine plan. It must be published by the marine plan authority in a way that brings it to the attention of interested persons. If a plan prepared by one of the devolved marine plan authorities includes provision relating to “retained functions”, the consultation draft may only be published with the agreement of the Secretary of State.

906.Paragraph 12 provides that anybody may make representations about the draft plan, in accordance with the SPP. If any representations are made, the marine plan authority must consider them in the course of finalising the text of the plan.

907.Paragraph 13 requires a marine plan authority to consider holding an independent investigation into the draft plan, to look in more detail at the proposals or the responses received to the consultation on the proposals. Sub-paragraph (2) sets out the factors to which the authority should have regard in deciding whether to hold an independent investigation, and sub-paragraph (3) requires the investigator to make recommendations and give his reasons for them. Sub-paragraph (4) requires the marine plan authority to publish the recommendations and reasons given by the investigator.

908.Paragraph 14 sets out some of the matters a marine plan authority must consider before deciding to adopt a marine plan, including the recommendations and reasoning given by any independent investigator that it appointed.

909.Paragraph 15 sets out the process for adopting and publishing a marine plan in its final form. A marine plan authority “adopts” a marine plan by making the decision to publish it.

910.Sub-paragraphs (2) and (3) require that plans for the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland offshore areas must be agreed by the Secretary of State before they may be adopted by the marine plan authority. (The requirement for the Secretary of State’s agreement to the adoption of a marine plan does not apply to a plan for the Welsh inshore region which does not include provision relating to retained matters.)

911.Under sub-paragraph (4) the conferral on the Welsh or Scottish Ministers, or the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland, of marine planning functions which are subject to the agreement of the Secretary of State does not affect any functions, or the exercise of any functions they have, or may acquire, apart from those under Part 3 of the Act.

912.This sub-paragraph secures that the devolved administrations’ existing functions, and any to be conferred, imposed or transferred in the future, are neither diminished nor constrained by the fact that certain marine planning functions under Part 3 are subject to a requirement for the Secretary of State’s agreement.  Thus, for example, the fact a marine plan under Part 3 of the Act cannot contain provision relating to retained functions unless the Secretary of State agrees does not prevent the devolved administrations from setting out policies of theirs relating to retained functions in the exercise of any relevant existing functions of theirs, or any relevant functions which are in future conferred or imposed on, or transferred to, them.

913.Section 58(1) requires certain authorisation or enforcement decisions to be taken in accordance with the appropriate marine policy documents (that is to say, the MPS, and any marine plans, to the extent provided for in section 59) unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise: so where a devolved administration has policies which relate to the marine area but which are made otherwise than under Part 3 of the Act, those policies could be relevant considerations for those purposes, depending on the circumstance.

914.Sub-paragraph (6) enables the marine plan authority to make changes to the draft marine plan before it adopts it, and sub-paragraph (7) requires that it should publish the plan as soon as possible after adoption, along with details of any changes and the reasons for them. If an independent investigation has been carried out, but the marine plan authority has not implemented some of the recommendations made by the investigator, it must also publish its reasons for not implementing the recommendations.



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