Marine Planning

What is Marine Planning?

Marine Planning is a new approach to the management of our seas. It aims to ensure a sustainable future for estuarine, coastal and off-shore waters by managing and balancing the different activities, resources and natural features of our marine environment.

Marine planning follows a similar approach to terrestrial planning. Marine Plans will be used by public authorities as part of the decision-making process for all new activities and developments affecting the marine and coastal waters.

England’s coast and off-shore waters are divided into 11 marine plan areas. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is responsible for the developed of a Marine Plan for each of these 11 marine plan areas.

Marine Planning in Devon

Devon’s estuaries, coasts and offshore waters will be divided into four marine plan areas and covered by four corresponding Marine Plans

The South Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans

The south inshore marine plan stretches from Folkestone in Kent to the River Dart in Devon. It includes the area from mean high water spring tide to 12nm. The south offshore marine plan covers the area from 12nm to the maritime borders with France and the Channel Islands. Most of the estuarine, coastal and offshore waters of east and south-east Devon, therefore, are covered by the South area Marine Plans.

The south area Marine Plans were the second English marine plans to be adopted. Following an extensive three-year engagement and development phase the South Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans came into force in July 2018.

For more information about the South Marine Plans, including advice on how and when to use the plans, please see and/or visit:

The South West Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans

The south west inshore marine plan area covers an area of approximately 2,000 kilometres of coastline stretching from the River Dart in Devon to the River Severn border with Wales. It includes the area from mean high water spring tide to 12nm. The south west offshore marine plan area includes the marine area from 12 nautical miles extending out to the seaward limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Most of the estuarine, coastal and offshore waters of south Devon and all of those of north Devon (including Lundy), therefore, are covered by the South West area Marine Plans

The 12-stage process  for the development of the South West Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans began in earnest in 2016.  Over the  past few years the MMO has engaged extensively with local stakeholders to identify key issues, agree a vision and objectives, and to develop options and draft specific policies.  Following the most recent round of stakeholder engagement (Iteration 3), which came to an end on 29th March 2019, the MMO have now produced the South West draft Plan.

Have your say and help shape the South West Marine Plans

Although the development of the South West Marine Plans is well underway, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to get involved and have your say.

No-one knows the South West coast and sea better than you, the people who live, work and play here. Your views are crucial in shaping your plan and in helping develop fair and effective policies. If you have a stake or interest in how marine activities are managed here in Devon and the SW, Marine Planning matters to you and we’d encourage you have your say via the online consultation which closes April 6th 2020

HOWEVER, perhaps you’re:

  • not really sure where or how it is relevant to you, your organisation, or local area
  • slightly overwhelmed by the scale of and detail in the Plans and associated documents
  • not particularly familiar or comfortable with online consultations
  • probably not inclined to respond to the consultation
  • looking for someone to explain face-to-face, one-to-one why, where and how marine planning matters to you and to guide you through the consultation process, in person, pointing out the sections most relevant to you and helping you formulate your responses

If some or all of the above apply to you then the Devon Maritime Forum can help! We will come, free of charge, to you and/or your organisation, at a time that is convenient for you, to talk through the marine planning process and to take you, step-by-step, through the draft South West Marine Plan consultation.

The DMF are particularly well placed to offer this service having worked closely with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in the development of both the South and South West Marine Plans whilst all the while maintaining our independence and role as a neutral broker and informed facilitator. As such, it is worth making clear that the aim of this process is to get YOUR views, not those of the DMF, nor the ones the MMO might want to hear.

If you’d like more information or think your organisation might be interested in the DMF’s offer of a bespoke one-to-one please contact