The Planning Bill and the Marine Bill, both of which are currently going through Parliament, have overlapping responsibilities but this has not been fully acknowledged in the legislation.

The Planning Bill, which will govern what happens along the coastline and developments such as ports, makes no direct reference to marine planning at all.

Speaking at a Coastal Management Systems’ conference on Marine Policy, in London, Jim Claydon, from planning and environmental consultancy Terence O’Rourke, raised concerns about the lack of integration between marine and terrestrial planning.

“The National Policy Statement proposed under the Planning Bill is a very clear expression of what people still call ‘silo mentality’,” he said.

He called for the proposed Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), the controversial body that would decide major infrastructure projects, and the planned Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to have overlapping membership and policy statements.

The Wildlife and Countryside Link, a coalition of voluntary environmental organisations in the UK, is supporting the Marine Bill, but is concerned that the IPC will make decisions about projects which directly affect the marine environment.

Melissa Moore, senior policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We believe that the Marine Management Organisation proposed under the Marine Bill is far better qualified to licence marine projects.

“To change this would need an amendment to the Planning Bill or could be done in the Marine Bill.”

She added: “But we are pleased to see that Government has now stated that the MMO should also be a statutory consultee to the IPC for offshore infrastructure.”

Kate Martin

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