Chapter 1: Marine Policy Statement
Statement of policy for UK marine area
Section 44: Marine policy statement
137.This section describes what is meant by a “marine policy statement” (MPS). Subsection (1) defines the MPS as a document that is prepared and adopted by the policy authorities, in accordance with the process laid down in Schedule 5, and which sets out their policies for contributing to the sustainable development of the UK marine area.
138.Subsections (2) and (3) state that the MPS may include additional supporting information and statements about the policies it includes. They set out what happens in the event of an apparent conflict between policy and any supporting information or statements, by ensuring that the policy always takes precedence. For example, the MPS may contain a policy to increase extraction of marine minerals by 10%, supported by figures showing that this would represent an increase of 10,000 tonnes per year. If this figure of 10,000 tonnes were wrong or became inaccurate over time, subsection (3) provides clarity that the policy of a “10% increase” is the figure which must be applied, not “10,000 tonnes”, which was only supporting information.
139.Subsection (4) identifies the “policy authorities” who may prepare and adopt an MPS, and subsection (5) defines what is meant by “adoption”.
Section 45: Preparation and coming into effect of statement
140.This section enables the policy authorities to prepare an MPS by acting jointly. In order to ensure that an MPS may be adopted under any circumstances, subsection (1) provides that an MPS may also be adopted by the Secretary of State acting jointly with only one or two of the other policy authorities, or alone if necessary.
141.Subsection (2) requires the Secretary of State to invite the other policy authorities to participate in preparing an MPS before he takes any decision to prepare one by himself.
142.Subsection (3) provides that a new MPS will always replace an older one, even if the new one is prepared and adopted by a different group of policy authorities. This ensures that there is only ever one MPS in effect at any time. (See section 47 for separate provisions on amending an existing MPS without replacing it.)
143.Subsection (4) provides that the MPS comes into effect when it has been adopted by the policy authorities in accordance with the process in Schedule 5. Once an MPS comes into effect, it affects the taking of certain decisions as set out in sections 58 to 60.
Section 46: Review of statement
144.This section requires policy authorities to review the MPS whenever they consider it appropriate to do so. The effect of the MPS does not change during a review under this section, although the review might lead to a policy authority deciding that the MPS should be amended or perhaps even withdrawn. (See sections 47 and 48 below.)
145.Review might be required because circumstances have changed since the MPS was adopted, or because the policy authority becomes aware that the MPS is not having the desired effects (either because decision-makers are taking decisions falling within section 58 which depart from the MPS, or as a result of the marine plan authorities monitoring and reporting activities under section 61).
Section 47: Amendment of statement
146.This section enables an MPS to be amended. Only the policy authorities which originally prepared and adopted an MPS may amend it.
147.An amendment to an MPS must be prepared and adopted in accordance with Schedule 5 in exactly the same way as the original MPS. Amendments to an MPS come into effect when they have been adopted and published.
Section 48: Withdrawal of, or from, statement
148.If any one of the policy authorities which originally adopted an MPS comes to the conclusion that the MPS no longer reflects their policy, and that authority does not want to, or cannot, correct the problem by making an amendment to the MPS, this section enables the authority to withdraw from the MPS. This is done by first notifying the other policy authorities of their intention, and then placing a notice in the London, Belfast and Edinburgh Gazettes.
149.The policy authority withdrawing from the MPS must also bring the withdrawal to the attention of “interested persons”. They are defined as being anyone the policy authority thinks is likely to be interested in, or affected by, the withdrawal (for example the regulators that have been using it in their decision-making in relation to devolved matters) and the general public.
150.The withdrawal takes effect once the notice is published in the Gazettes.
151.Subsection (8) ensures that the withdrawal of an MPS does not change the effect or validity of any existing marine plans which have been prepared in order to implement the MPS, or the way in which such plans should be construed.
152.Once a devolved policy authority has withdrawn from an MPS, the MPS ceases to have any further effect on decisions which relate to matters within the authority’s devolved competence. If the Secretary of State withdraws from the MPS, it ceases to have effect at all.