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1. What does the WNMP do?

The Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP) sets out how we will develop our seas in a sustainable way. The Plan will:

  • help manage increasing demands for the use of our marine environment
  • encourage and support the economic development of marine sectors
  • incorporate environmental protection and social considerations into marine decision making.

2. Who has developed the WNMP?

The Welsh Ministers are the marine planning authority for the inshore and offshore Welsh marine plan areas. Welsh Government has developed the first WNMP, which was adopted on 12 November 2019.  The plan was developed with marine stakeholders and other areas of government with an interest in marine policy. The WNMP was developed in line with the approach set out in a Statement of Public Participation published at the start of the planning process. 

3. How does the National Marine Plan relate to terrestrial planning?

The WNMP will: 

  • sit alongside and interact with the neighbouring land planning regimes 
  • overlap with terrestrial planning National development Framework and Local Development Plan boundaries.

This will ensure marine and terrestrial planning work together. This is explained in this infographic.

The WNMP could also be a consideration in terrestrial planning applications. For more information, see this infographic.

4. What area does the WNMP cover?

The WNMP extends from Mean High Water Spring (MHWS) tide to cover the inshore and offshore (>>12nm Welsh offshore plan region). 

5. Does the WNMP apply to reserved (i.e. UK) as well as devolved activities?

Yes, we have planned for reserved activities in Wales’ seas. The WNMP has been guided by the UK Marine Policy Statement which is adopted by the UK and devolved administrations. It will facilitate an integrated approach to marine planning across the UK. We have worked with the UK government to agree the WNMP for reserved functions in relation to Welsh seas.

6. Does the plan introduce new statutory responsibilities?

Relevant public authorities must take the plan into account in their decision making, if the decision might affect the plan area. More information is available on the Marine Planning Decision Makers Group background page. 

7. Will existing users of the sea be able to continue their activities?

There is a presumption of use in the marine environment, subject to specific processes such as marine licences. The presumption of use will continue but the WNMP provides strategic direction on what we want to achieve for the marine area. It will: 

  • help inform decision making
  • direct key activities
  • resolve conflict 
  • promote co-existence where activities overlap.

8. Does the WNMP only apply to industries such as renewable energy and aggregate extraction?

The plan has been developed for all users of the sea. This includes: 

  • the energy sectors (including oil and gas)
  • fishing
  • tourism and recreational users
  • ports and harbours
  • aquaculture 
  • transport. 

It also contains ‘general policies’, like marine ecosystem and marine historic environment policies. These protect our natural and historic environments when decisions are being made.

9. Will there be a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the National Marine Plan?

Yes. A Sustainability Appraisal, which includes a Strategic Environmental Assessment, was undertaken to inform development. This was published alongside the WNMP. 

10. What information will be used to develop the National Marine Plan?

The Wales Marine Evidence Report provides a coherent evidence base that informed the development of the WNMP. This will be updated from time to time as new evidence becomes available. An update was published in January 2020. Wider evidence, as well as information and comments from marine interests, will also be considered.

An online marine planning portal shows the uses and activities, as well as our natural resources, in the Welsh Marine Area.  The portal helps users understand what may be relevant considerations in a particular area of our seas.

11. Who will use the National Marine Plan?

Primarily public authorities taking decisions which affect or might affect the marine area. Also, anyone who has an interest in the marine area will use it. This includes those bringing forward proposals and stakeholders who wish to comment on such proposals. We have established a Marine Planning Decision Makers Group. This will help relevant authorities understand how to take decisions in line with the plan. 

We’ve also published Implementation Guidance.

This guidance should ensure that WNMP policies are implemented effectively and consistently. It should be read alongside the WNMP.

12. Is the Marine Plan content fixed?

The marine planning authority must keep the plan under review. Welsh Government has a statutory duty to review and report on the effectiveness of the plan every 3 years and to report on its intentions every 6 years.

13. Getting involved

The involvement of those with an interest in and responsibility for the marine area has been central to the development of the Marine Plan. This is set out in the  Statement of Public Participation (SPP). You can also sign up to our newsletter to be kept informed of progress on a regular basis. We encourage anyone with an interest in marine planning to get in touch.