The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has published the finalised plans for the East Inshore and Offshore marine areas in England, following approval from the Secretary of State for the Environment.
The UK Chamber welcomes the plans’ recognition of the need to enable sustainable growth of the shipping and ports sectors in order to create local and national benefits in terms of trade development and job creation.
UK Chamber Chief Executive Guy Platten said: “We believe that shipping will have a key role in ensuring that economic development is compatible with maintaining a healthy and resilient environment. We support the plans’ view that promotion of short-sea and coastal shipping will have positive impacts in reducing transport carbon emissions and freeing up road and rail capacity.”
The plans, covering the coast and seas from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe, are the first to be adopted in England and seek to promote sustainable economic development while conserving and enhancing the marine environment. The UK Chamber of Shipping has played an active role in the development of the plans over the past three years, providing advice to the MMO on the role shipping has to play in achieving economic, environmental and social objectives.
Although the shipping specific policies outlined in the plans should create a degree of protection for established shipping routes in the region, the UK Chamber remains concerned that maps relating to the policies do not provide a complete picture of industry activity.
A contextual shipping map, requested by the chamber during public consultation in 2013, does seek to provide more detailed information on shipping and ports activity. However, concerns have been raised that the data included will need to be moved to a policy specific map to have any real impact in protecting the industry’s navigational safety and commercial needs. The chamber said that it hopes that, as project plans within Round 3 offshore wind zones become clearer, the restrictions faced by the MMO in highlighting shipping activity in these areas will be removed.
Early proposals for assessment of shipping data within the south plan areas have provided reassurance that the MMO’s understanding of automatic information system (AIS) data is improving, allowing the level of detail to be increased to capture vessel types, sizes, activities and routes. The chamber said: “We believe that new methodologies developed for interpreting AIS should be applied retrospectively to the east plan areas and looks forward to working with the MMO to ensure that marine planning fulfils its potential in promoting and protecting the benefits provided by shipping.”
UK Chamber of Shipping, April 3, 2014