Pressure on our seas is growing: fish farms, pipelines, tourist boats and dredging machinery all vie for space. These uses can conflict with one another and have adverse environmental impacts, blocking sustainable development and wrecking the economic and social benefits of nature conservation.
In contrast to the well-developed terrestrial planning system, no overall framework exists for planning the use of the sea. Instead, there is an ad hoc sectoral approach to consenting of marine activities, involving different pieces of legislation, using different scales and means of mapping, and all managed by different authorities. The inevitable result is planning disputes that waste time and money, undermine the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of new developments and put wildlife and historic features at risk.