Marine plans set the priorities and direction for future development within estuaries and marine waters.

They contain policies which authorities must make their decisions in accordance with when considering applications for development.

Policies may affect proposals for maintenance or expansion of recreational boating facilities and they will also control other kinds of development where it is likely to impact on other uses of the sea, such as recreational boating.

As we approach the two year mark since the East Marine Plan was published, the Marine Management Organisation is changing the way they develop the remaining plans in England in order to meet its deadline of 2021.

South Marine Plan – preparing for public consultation

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is keen to get the South Marine Plan out to public consultation, however delays during the Government approval process have meant that publication of the consultation has been put back from the initial target of Spring 2016. 

Publicity restrictions in the lead up to the EU referendum mean that it is likely that the consultation will start in early summer. More details will be sent out in the coming months and we’ll be sure to keep our members informed on developments.

Starting the next phase of marine plans

The MMO is starting the next phase of preparing the remaining marine plans for England – developing plans for the north east, south east, south west and north west marine areas and have recently announced that they will take a different approach to marine planning going forward.

Firstly, in a change to the development of plans to date, the MMO will be developing all the remaining plans simultaneously. 

By incorporating the revised timeline with lessons learned, economies of scale and knowledge of some of the issues that affect all marine areas from developing the plans so far, the MMO hope to speed up the planning process and complete all the remaining plans by the tight deadline of 2021.

Secondly, they will be taking a less linear and more flexible approach to how the plans are developed. To do this the MMO will be looking at all aspects of a marine plan together, so they can develop the structure and the content of each plan more quickly and therefore share them at an earlier stage, including annual reviews.

Protecting recreational boating

The RYA is working to ensure that marine plans recognise the importance and value of recreational boating activity along coast and the inherent benefits it brings to coastal communities. 

We are working to ensure that policies are put in place to protect and improve recreational boating, and that any policies which may affect the development of recreational boating facilities are proportionate, evidence based and enforceable.

Marine plans can benefit recreational boating by providing clarity on decision making in the coastal zone, reducing uncertainty and enabling developers to assess at an early stage where recreational boating activity takes place, such as important navigational routes, club/training centre facilities or cruising and racing areas, enabling schemes to be designed in a compatible way.

However, marine plans should not increase regulatory burdens on the maintenance or improvement of recreational boating facilities and should ensure that existing activity is protected from development proposals.

Get involved

Boaters should engage with the marine planning process in their area to ensure the importance and value of recreational boating is recognised.

Marine planning events are taking place the week of Monday 11 April.   The events are an introduction to marine planning, for you to meet your local marine planner and to find out more about what marine planning involves, and how you can get involved.

The MMO will also be demonstrating their Marine Information System and the evidence base where you can view some of the evidence already gathered for your area. 

The events are open sessions, including a number of scheduled presentations on marine planning. These will be held hourly, beginning at the start times shown below.

As part of the events you will also be able to find out more about the MMO's consultations on the Statement of Public Participation and the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report.

To find out more details and to register please click on your area below.  

North East

  • Whitby: 14 April, 11am to 2pm, Green Lane centre, YO22 4EH 
  • Bamburgh: 15 April  11am to 2pm, Bamburgh Pavillion, NE69 7DF 
  • Newcastle upon Tyne: 19 April 11am to 2pm, Discovery Museum, NE1 4JA  

South East 

  • Whitstable: 11 April, 9am to 12pm, Whitstable Waterfront, CT5 2BP
  • London: 13 April, 9am to 12pm, Mary Sumner House, SW1P 3RB
  • Colchester: 15 April, 9am to 12pm, Lake View Room University of Essex, CO4 3SQ  

South West

  • Falmouth: 11 April, 12 to 3pm, National Maritime Museum, TR11 3QY 
  • Plymouth: 12 April, 1 to 4pm , Plymouth City Council Guildhall, PL1 2AA (hosted by Tamar Estuary Consultative Forum)
  • Bideford: 13 April, 1 to 4pm Caddsdown Business Support Centre, EX39 3DX
  • Weston-Super-Mare:  14 April, 9am to 12pm, Weston College,  BS23 2AL  

North West

  • Liverpool: 18 April, 1 to 4pm, University of Liverpool, L69 3GL
  • Carlisle: 19 April, 9am to 12pm,  Carlisle Business Interaction Centre (CBIC), CA3 8TT
  • Blackpool: 20 April, 9am to 12pm, The Solaris Centre, FY4 1RW

If you would like to speak with your local MMO marine planning officer in the new plan areas you can contact them on:

To find out more about how each country is developing their marine plans and to learn about how the RYA is working to represent the interests of recreational boaters, visit

For further information, email