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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Section 51: Marine plans for marine plan areas

156.This section provides for the creation of marine plans, and sets out certain basic requirements as to their content and the way in which they are to be prepared.

157.Subsection (1) allows a marine plan authority to prepare marine plans for “marine plan areas” within its region.

158.Subsection (2) places a duty on marine plan authorities to seek to ensure that marine plans are prepared for all parts of regions where the MPS “governs marine planning” (see paragraph 162 below).

159.Subsection (3) defines a marine plan. Like the definition of an MPS in section 44, marine plans are defined by reference to who creates them, the process they must follow, and the content. Subsection (3) requires that marine plans must:

  • be prepared and adopted by the marine plan authority for the marine planning region in which the marine plan area lies;

  • be prepared in accordance with the process set out in Schedule 6; and

  • state the marine plan authority’s policies for contributing to the sustainable development of the marine plan area.

160.Subsection (5) requires that a marine plan must identify the area to which it applies – this may be through a map or chart, or by other means.

161.Subsection (6) specifies that a marine plan must be in conformity with any MPS which “governs marine planning” for that marine plan area, unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. Marine plans are intended to set out how the policies and objectives stated in the MPS apply at the local level, based on information about specific activities and processes taking place in that area. This ensures that there is a close link between the general policy in the MPS and how it is applied to specific situations in plans.

162.Subsection (7) explains when an MPS “governs marine planning”. The MPS must have been adopted by the policy authority which is also the marine plan authority for the marine planning region which includes the area of the plan, must not have been replaced or withdrawn and that policy authority must not have withdrawn from the plan.

163.Subsection (8) requires a marine plan prepared by a devolved administration to state whether it includes provision relating to “retained functions” (that is, powers and duties which have not been devolved: see section 60 for the meaning of these terms).

164.Subsection (9) provides that a marine plan may also contain supporting statements and information, and subsection (10) provides for any conflict between the policies in the marine plan and any supporting information to be resolved in favour of the plan. See the notes on section 44 above for further explanation.

165.Subsection (11) states that a marine plan comes into effect when it has been adopted and published in accordance with Schedule 6. Once a marine plan comes into effect in this way, it has a legal effect on decisions which affect the UK marine area (see sections 58 to 60).

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