A New Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning

The European Parliament has today (24th April) endorsed a new Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP).  MSP is a fundamental part of EU Integrated Maritime Policy and the Commission’s Blue Growth Strategy.  The text adopted can be found here.

In an increasingly busy coastal and marine environment with many competing needs and finite resources the new Directive will aim to establish a system of maritime spatial planning across Europe to resolve issues, helping to avoid conflict between different uses and contributing to sustainable growth.  It will also contribute to more efficient implementation of EU environmental legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and assist with the aim of marine waters reaching good environmental status by 2020 and the establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas. It will ensure effective trans-boundary marine planning and co-operation between Member States and the participation of stakeholders.

Once the new legislation is finally adopted by ministers, Member States have until 2016 to transpose the Directive into their national legislation. National Maritime Spatial Plans must be drawn up by 2021.  

In the UK we already have marine planning legislation – the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 – and the Marine Management Organisation is drawing up marine plans on an area by area basis with the finalised East Inshore and East Offshore Marine Plans published on 2nd April 2014 and work well underway on the South Marine Plan areas. It is not yet certain what effect a new Diretive will have on the UK’s existing legislation that is being implemented now.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki and Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “Today’s vote in the European Parliament is an important step in creating new growth opportunities across all maritime sectors by better managing our seas and ensuring their sustainability. Only if we coordinate the various activities taking place in our seas can we make access to maritime space more predictable for investors and at the same time reduce the impact of maritime activities on the environment.”

For more information see the European Commission’s Press Release

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