On 12 November 2019, Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, published the first ever Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP), setting out the vision for the sustainable development of Welsh seas over the next twenty years.

The WNMP has been prepared and adopted under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009), which provides the basis for marine planning across the United Kingdom. The Welsh Marine Plan area consists of around 32,000 km2 of sea, with 2,120 km of coastline. The plan covers both the Welsh inshore region (from mean high water spring tides out to 12 nautical miles) and offshore region (beyond 12 nautical miles) in a single document.

Sectors included in the Plan are aggregates; aquaculture; defense; dredging and disposal; fisheries; renewable energy; oil and gas; ports and shipping; sub-sea cabling; surface wastewater; tourism and recreation.

The plan has been adopted with the agreement of the UK Government Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for non-devolved matters. It takes a twenty-year view whilst recognizing that certain activities may need to be planned for beyond this period and others are likely to change significantly during this Plan’s lifetime. Monitoring and reporting is a statutory requirement (MCAA s.61) and an important step in the planning process. A review and reporting will take place at least every three years on the effects of policies in the WNMP.

Now the Plan is in place, relevant public authorities must take account of it in their decision making. Stakeholders have been engaged throughout the Marine Planning process through the Marine Planning Stakeholder Reference Group and with decision makers through the Marine Planning Decision Makers Group.

The Implementation Guidance guides the practical application of WNMP policy and helps ensure its effective and consistent implementation. The document provides information on relevant legislation, the definition of terms used within the WNMP and some factual information on governance and consenting. It also alerts readers to the need to consider any cross-border impacts, as well as provides guidance on the application of WNMP policy in relation to proposals where functions are devolved to Welsh Government. This is one of a suite of products the Marine Planning team are producing to support users in applying Wales’ first Marine Plan.

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