Feb 20, 2017

Q and A with Sam Wright, MMO Planner for the NW

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Marine Planning!


What is marine planning?

Marine planning is all about sustainable development. We want to make sure the right activities take place in the right place and in the right way (and right time) within the marine environment. We will do this through the emerging North West Marine Plan.


I assume you only care about big budget developments?

Not at all. This is the biggest myth about marine planning. Whilst we do have multi-billion pound businesses feeding into the developing Marine Plans, we have companies of one person who are telling us what is important to them. We also have people who use the coast and sea in their spare time talking to us. They all matter.

If you care about the marine area, then I want to talk to you and hear your views. Whilst Marine Plans can’t solve every problem, we always pay attention to what you have to say. If we can’t help, we will say why. But I would rather get ten issues that I cannot help with than miss one we could.


You talk a lot about development. What about our beautiful environment?

The environment is incredibly important to us. We are truly lucky in the North West to have some of the most beautiful coastline and estuaries in the world. I dare anyone to stand on St Bee’s Head and claim otherwise. Amazing areas like that need protecting so future generations can experience it too. That is why it is called sustainable development. So we want you to tell us what is most important so we have a full picture.


What does a Marine Plan look like?

We have just released the first iteration products of the process that will develop the North West Marine Plan. You can find them here. We are also looking for your feedback which you can provide until 31 March. If you like the policies or format, tell us. If you don’t, then tell us as well. We are open to every option. What matters to us is that the Marine Plan works for you and the North West marine area.

If you are looking to see an indication of the scope of marine plans, but are not necessarily a template for the North West, the East Marine Plan is the first to be adopted in the UK.  We also recently published the South Marine Plan for public consultation. 


Is marine planning just about the sea?

Absolutely not. Marine planning covers many of the decisions for the coast, estuaries and tidal rivers, as well as anything which has an effect on them. This means that sometimes we look quite a long way inland. This includes our wonderful sandy beaches and intertidal mud flats which are so important to wildlife.


Who are you exactly?

I am the marine planner based in the North West. I go out and meet people like you to make sure your voices are heard by the rest of the team in Newcastle. Before that I worked at sea in the Merchant Navy. I even trained up here on the North West coast and completely fell in love with it.


What are some of the issues that people have told you about?

When we last asked people for what mattered to them, we were blown away by the response. We got hundreds of comments (I should know, I looked through each and every one.) To give you an example of what you told us, we were given a lot of opinions about tidal energy opportunities in the North West. For a full list you can look at our website here.


Ok, I’m interested. How do I find out more?

There is some information online. But if you want to talk to someone, then please get in touch with me. It’s what I am here for. My contact information is at the bottom of this Q&A.


We are also holding workshops  this month and next including in Blackpool and Carlisle on 28 February and 1 March respectively. These will be to help us understand if some of our draft policies are solutions to the issues in the North West you raised with us. We need to hear your views, so please register and come along!


My Contact Details:

Telephone: 020822 57095

Solway Firth Partnership