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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Section 2: General objective

46.The MMO is to act as the UK Government’s strategic delivery body in the marine area. As such it will exercise a number of marine functions. This section sets out the MMO’s general objective in relation to those functions. It must ensure that activity in its marine area is managed, regulated and controlled with the objective of making a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development. To facilitate the performance of its overall objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development under subsection (1)(a) the MMO may further any of the three core elements of sustainable development. This may be necessary to ensure that an appropriate balance between environmental, social and economic considerations is reached (subsection (2)).

47.In carrying out its functions the MMO must take account of all relevant facts and matters (subsection (1)(b)). The test is an objective one: the MMO must take into account any fact or matter that is in fact relevant. Subsection (3) gives examples of the sorts of evidence that the MMO will need to take into account in fulfilment of this duty. A broad definition of evidence applies to the section (see subsection (12)) to ensure that reliance may be placed upon the fullest possible range of evidence that the MMO is likely to need to refer to in carrying out its functions, including scientific and economic data and predictive studies. Subsection (3)(c) enables the MMO additionally to take into account other things which it may consider appropriate (but this does not mean that it may leave out of account anything which is in fact relevant and which it is required to take into account under subsection (1)(b)).

48.The MMO must also consider the effect that decisions on one area will have on any other area so that overall it acts in a consistent and coordinated way (subsection (1)(c)). This means that any decision of the MMO should be viewed in the context of the entirety of its functions to ensure that it comes to a balanced view.

49.The Secretary of State will issue the MMO with guidance as to how it is to seek to secure that a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development is made. This guidance will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny before it is given to the MMO. It will be published by the Secretary of State and a copy of it will be provided by the MMO to any person who requests it.

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