The House of Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs committee has largely endorsed the government’s new system of marine planning, in a report published on 25 January.
The draft marine policy statement (MPS) was published for consultation in July (ENDS Report, July 2010). A final version is due in March, intended to provide a framework for the future sustainable development of the UK’s full range of offshore resources.
But the MPs are concerned that a planned 21% funding cut to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) by 2013/14 will jeopardise its implementation.
The MMO is due to publish regional marine plans under the MPS for eastern coastal waters and the southern North Sea in 2013. Plans for other areas should be completed by 2020.
The MPs also questioned whether the draft MPS is consistent with EU environmental legislation, such as the Habitats Directive. They advise the government to consider the matter carefully.