The North Sea under pressure: is regional marine co-operation the answer? - European Union Committee Contents


53.  We identified tensions and opportunities arising from three distinct human factors in the seas: from the sometimes contrasting environmental and economic objectives; from the varying objectives of economic users; and from the regulatory environment. In this chapter, we illustrate the first two of those factors before considering marine planning as a tool to overcome the tensions and maximise the opportunities through a co-operative approach. We go on to consider regulatory tensions, particularly those deriving from EU legislation.

Objectives and uses of the marine environment

54.  The European Commission has adopted the term "blue growth" to describe economic growth in the marine environment (see Box 2). It explained that the aim of blue growth was "to do whatever we can … to facilitate and support the development of the maritime economy in the European Union."[93] The North Sea region is highly industrialised and is considered to be a crucial region for the EU's maritime economy.[94] The North Sea Region Programme (NSRP) described the North Sea as "probably the most industrialised sea in the world."[95]

55.  Marine environmental protection in the EU is most effectively encapsulated by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). An important method of delivering Good Environmental Status (GES) under the MSFD is to introduce marine protected areas (MPAs), of which there should have been "ecologically representative systems" by 2012. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said: "In order to establish coherent and representative networks of MPAs as required by the MSFD, more progress needs to be made with co-operation between Member States within MSFD sub-regions".[96] Wildlife and Countryside Link observed that "there is no obligation on Member States to co-operate with one another in designating sites."[97] We explore the difficulties of such co-operation when faced with the competing demands of blue growth in paragraphs 59 and 90 in relation to the Dogger Bank.

56.  The size of the MPA designation challenge was demonstrated by the difficulties faced by the UK alone in designating its Marine Conservation Zones. Commenting on these difficulties, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee concluded: "The designation of 27 sites in 2013 and the prospect of only another 37 at the end of 2015 represent an unambitious programme, after a total of 127 sites had been recommended by experts and stakeholders."[98] On 30 January 2015, the Government announced that, out of the original 37 candidates for designation by the end of 2015, only 23 were suitable. Further consideration will be given to designating the remaining 14 sites at a later stage.[99]

57.  Delivery of both economic growth and marine environmental protection is an explicit priority of marine management. This is clear from the vision set out in the joint Marine Policy Statement of the UK Government and the UK's three devolved administrations: "The UK vision for the marine environment is for 'clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas'". The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) considered these goals of marine environmental protection and blue growth to be compatible.[100]

58.  In contrast, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) told us: "it is clear that you will inevitably come into some kind of conflict".[101] The Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy, Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, considered that "it is inevitable that there are challenges and competing uses of resources".[102] The German government noted: "Economic activities like fishery, aquaculture and wind energy have to be reconciled with tourism and recreation as well as with ecological aspects."[103]

59.  The Dogger Bank was often cited to illustrate these tensions. This area of the North Sea falls under British, Dutch, German and Danish jurisdiction (see Box 1). It was identified by Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom as a marine Special Area of Conservation—a form of marine protected area—under the Habitats Directive.[104] It is also a rich area for fishing and a site for offshore wind development. Yet, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) told us that it had not so far proved possible to secure agreement on protecting the area under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).[105] Wildlife and Countryside Link said: "The recovery of the Dogger Bank habitat has the potential to make a major contribution to marine conservation in the North Sea, but the lack of governance, support and political will means that this has been severely delayed."[106]

60.  On the other hand, new environmental opportunities could arise from the economic development of the seas. EWEA told us: "An offshore wind farm can also be an excellent natural conservation site for certain types of species, because it is a no­fishing zone or because molluscs and plants all collect around the substructures and therefore offer feeding grounds for certain other kinds of species."[107] Oil and Gas UK made a similar point: "Offshore installations and pipelines are recognised as biodiversity hotspots and might be important elements of the North Sea ecosystems."[108] To test this, industry sponsors had initiated a programme of research, INSITE (Influence of man-made Structures In The Ecosystem).[109] Oil and Gas UK anticipated "that the findings may support any future discussion on the scope of decommissioning offshore infrastructure in the North Sea."[110]

61.  The 'Clean North Sea Shipping' project (see paragraph 138) was cited as an example of the way tension in the marine environment can stimulate a positive change, contributing to environmental protection and driving innovation. It led to a set of recommendations, from which opportunities also flowed for industry.[111]


62.  Competition between the different economic users of the sea can also present challenges. The North Sea Commission (NSC) stated: "A key challenge in the North Sea is the management of conflicts between competing users of the sea basin."[112] The MMO acknowledged that there could be competition for space in the sea, but considered that "the majority of industries can exist together in some form or another."[113]

63.  The relationship between the fishing industry and the oil and gas industry was one example of successful co-existence. The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) told us: "We have indeed had a mature and developed relationship with oil and gas for over 30 years—better still, we have managed to work together for mutual benefit".[114] The Crown Estate (see Box 7) confirmed that there were previously "huge tensions" between the two industries, but that the relationship improved once they realised that there was "a mutual commercial advantage in working together."[115]

Box 7: The Crown Estate
The Crown Estate is a body established in perpetuity under the Crown Estate Act 1961 as a trust estate, independent of government and the Monarch with a public function to:

·  invest in and manage certain property assets belonging to the Monarch; and

·  give its surplus revenue each year to the Treasury.

It manages virtually the entire seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, as well as around half of the foreshore. In relation to offshore energy and infrastructure, its role as a landowner "is about enabling and trying to attract investment to offshore assets in the UK, focusing particularly on low-carbon energy."[116]

Under proposed new arrangements on the devolution of powers to Scotland, responsibility for the management of the Crown Estate's economic assets in Scotland, and the revenue generated from these assets, would be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.[117]

64.  On the other hand, relations between the fisheries sector and the offshore wind industry were described by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) as "much patchier."[118] The Crown Estate was more positive, citing the work of the Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW) as an example of where the relationship between the two industries had begun to work well.[119]

65.  Shipping is another industry that could come into conflict with the offshore renewables sector. Research by the EU part-funded project, ACCSEAS, indicated that navigable space allocated to wind farms could increase within just a few years from the current c.440km² up to c.23,500km². This would constitute around 5.5% of all navigable space in the North Sea region.[120]

66.  The NSC told us: "If we build [a] lot of wind parks not only are we disturbing fisheries, we are also creating the need to re-align the shipping lanes."[121] ACCSEAS concluded that the size and location of wind farm sites, "coupled with projected increases in shipping traffic and vessel size, [pose] serious safety and efficiency concerns." The project's recommendation was to introduce electronic navigation systems.

67.  The International Maritime Organization (IMO) (see Box 8) is responsible for adopting shipping lanes and amendments to them.[122] IMO guidance indicates that proposals for new or amended shipping lanes (routeing systems) should take account of "any drilling rigs, exploration platforms, and other offshore structures that may exist in the vicinity of the proposed routeing system. Member governments should ensure, as far as practicable, that such structures are not established within the traffic lanes of routeing systems or near their terminations."[123]

Box 8: The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
The establishment by the United Nations of the IMO in 1948 recognised the international nature of the shipping industry and the reality that issues relating to maritime safety in particular cannot be managed by States acting on their own.

It is now comprised of 170 Member States and three Associate Members. The European Union is not a Member of the IMO. The IMO has promoted the adoption of around 50 conventions and protocols and adopted more than 1,000 codes and recommendations concerning maritime safety and security, the prevention of pollution and related matters.[124]

68.  The UK Marine Policy Statement supports the IMO requirement:

    "Marine plan authorities and decision makers should take into account and seek to minimise any negative impacts on shipping activity, freedom of navigation and navigational safety and ensure that their decisions are in compliance with international maritime law."[125]

69.  The confluence of shipping lanes and offshore structures is a particular issue in the southern North Sea. We observe that International Maritime Organization guidance is comprehensive in its navigational safety requirements and we are confident that the UK has a regulatory process in place to implement that guidance. It is, however, evident that there are concerns about the application of navigational safety provisions across the North Sea as a whole. We recommend that the UK Government, in partnership with the International Maritime Organization and neighbouring countries, ensure that comprehension of the provisions is adequate and that the process is transparent. (Recommendation 5)


70.  A number of witnesses argued that the tension between users and between objectives in the marine environment could be tackled through marine planning. This involves the analysis and organisation of human activities at sea to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives. It is distinct from the licensing of specific activities.

71.  The Government considered that, in principle, marine planning "helps to reduce real and potential conflict, achieve integration between different objectives, manage competing demands on the marine area, maximise compatibility and encourage co-existence of marine activities."[126] The MMO, responsible for marine licensing and for the delivery of the marine planning process in England, saw planning as a positive way of resolving conflict.[127] Wildlife and Countryside Link also hoped that marine planning could reduce user conflict and argued that it should be used proactively to reduce conflict.[128] The Crown Estate supports marine planning, because: "in a defined space where multiple activities are going on, there is bound to be a degree of interaction between activities."[129]

72.  The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) was concerned that environmental commitments might be overlooked during the marine planning process:

    "Marine planning and plans must fulfil their promise in implementing an ecosystem-based approach to economic growth. There is a danger that Marine Plans can become little more than window dressing for the status quo, or worse—a veneer of 'environmental legitimacy' for what is in reality merely an unabated 'Blue Growth' agenda."[130]

73.  Wildlife and Countryside Link considered that, for marine planning to be successful, all activities needed to be considered:

    "There is a misconception that the needs of fishing and conservation are not as spatially specific as commercial activities such as wind farms and aggregate dredging … the plans so far, developed in the North Sea area have not included fisheries and future conservation designations."[131]

The SFF was concerned that the interests of the emerging offshore renewable industry might trump those of the fishing sector. There was therefore a need for "reasonable protection for sustainable legal activity that already exists."[132] The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) concluded: "Co-ordination will be key to ensuring that the interests of traditional sectors such as fisheries and transport are protected while Scotland takes advantages of the opportunities of new sectors such as offshore renewable energy."[133]

74.  The EWEA emphasised the value of marine planning in supporting offshore wind energy investment decisions: "More certainty that planning procedures will go through and that there will be less conflict—so other people will not complain and not come back and challenge the permits—would certainly help appease this sentiment of risk."[134] The Crown Estate agreed: "We want [through the marine planning process] to accelerate and de-risk developments taking place because we believe that that will attract investment."[135] The NSC noted the importance of "predictable, long term planning as a means to boost attractiveness for investment."[136] In 2013, when investigating long term energy investment, we too concluded that clear and credible policy was a pre-requisite for attracting investment. We warned that "Failure to invest, or investment at high financing costs due to perceived policy risk, could push up the overall cost of energy to consumers."[137]

75.  The need for a flexible approach that takes into account innovation was another element of marine planning highlighted by the EWEA: "when you look at things like [marine planning], one risk is to adopt a very formalist, prescriptive approach and to start thinking, 'Perhaps wind turbines should not go here or perhaps wind turbines should not go there.'" Instead, systems should also allow for technological developments that might solve problems of co-location, such as those that can drive monopiling silently, thus minimising the associated noise impact on marine mammals.[138]

76.  The Commission emphasised that marine planning was an evolving concept among EU Member States and still in its infancy in some of them.[139] The current state of play in the countries around the North Sea is set out in Appendix 6.


77.  The various marine planning systems in place across the UK, which sit within the framework of the UK-wide Marine Policy Statement (MPS),[140] are set out in Appendix 5. Together, the UK plans and MPS aim for "greater coherence in policy and a forward-looking, proactive and [marine planning] approach to the management of the marine area, its resources, and the activities and interactions that take place within it."

Box 9: Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
The MMO is a non-departmental public body with a range of functions, including:

·  marine planning;

·  regulation of marine industries;

·  licensing activities in the marine area;

·  protecting and enhancing the natural marine environment;

·  fisheries management.

The MMO is responsible for most of the marine planning functions in England, including preparing the marine plans. It does so within the framework of Government policy: "Although the overarching policy is set by Government in national framework documents, ultimately it is the planners of the MMO who … have the important and difficult responsibility of making the judgements".[141] The marine plans must be approved by the Secretary of State before they are published in draft and before they are finalised. The MMO is also responsible for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the marine plans.

Much of the delivery of the marine planning system is through licensing and enforcement by the MMO. All decisions—whether through licensing, consents, other approvals or enforcement—must be made in accordance with the marine plans or the Marine Policy Statement, unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise.

78.  Despite the stated division of responsibility between the Government and the MMO for marine planning policy and delivery in England (see Box 9), and the distinction between marine planning and marine licensing, we sensed a lack of clarity in both areas. On the one hand, the MMO stated: "Blue growth is a policy area for central government, and we have no direct role either in influencing that policy area or in evaluating whether it is successful."[142] On the other hand, the Minister, George Eustice MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, was clear that the MMO "is leading on putting these marine plans together … and then implements [them] through its licensing decisions."[143]

79.  England's first set of marine plans—the East Inshore and East Offshore Plans—were published by the MMO in 2014, and included a 20-year vision. The executive summary accompanying the plans explains:

    "Individual applications for marine developments will continue to require case specific assessments that consider the proposed activity and the location where it will occur. However, the East marine plans set the planning context for case specific assessments, providing a broad picture to inform the assessment of the likely impacts, positive or negative, of proposals and giving an indication of the locations where particular activities or developments may be supported."

80.  Similarly, in Scotland:

    "The National Marine Plan and future regional plans must be taken into account when marine licensing applications are considered. The licensing process will also consider specific aspects of proposed developments and use, reaching a balanced view on whether an individual project should be consented."[144]

81.  These explanations draw a distinction between marine planning on the one hand and development control (marine licensing) on the other. It was a distinction recognised by the UK Government: "Pending a full set of marine plans being in place, we of course have a marine licensing regime so that it is not the Wild West".[145]

82.  The sometimes blurred distinction between planning and licensing may explain the differences of opinion between the MMO and stakeholders on the level of certainty in relation to planning in the English marine environment. The MMO took the view that "the regulatory framework that we use at the moment is very good at recognising … conflicts and at addressing them in a satisfactory way". National Grid acknowledged that there might be "opportunities for [marine planning] serving a good purpose … but it depends on how it is implemented."[146] Wildlife and Countryside Link was similarly uncertain: "At the minute, [marine planning] seems to be more describing the status quo of what industries and activities are already taking place, rather than looking for ways to proactively reduce that conflict."[147]

83.  The UK Government admitted that marine planning in England was still at an early stage: "The marine planning system is way behind the terrestrial planning system … at the moment we are in transition to having a full planning system in place. [148]

84.  Scotland's draft marine plan was published in December 2014.[149] The Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee concluded that the plan "is in parts too detailed and prescriptive and in other places too vague, and therefore requires amendment to make it fully fit for purpose." The Committee was also unclear how regional marine planning would interact with the national plan.[150]

85.  There are examples of co-operation between users of the sea, but as competition for space grows increasingly intense, so the need to co-operate will intensify. Marine planning may contribute to productive co-operation that spans sectors and users, but it is not a silver bullet for overcoming tensions and maximising opportunities in the marine environment.

86.  The reality of marine planning is that, insofar as it exists around the EU, it is embryonic. There is broad support for the concept, but it is now important that users should begin to see its practical benefits, most notably in providing a more predictable planning framework for investment and for the multiple users of the North Sea.

87.  We note the emphasis placed on the importance of a comprehensive approach that features both certainty and the flexibility to take into account innovative developments. While a full review of the application of the Marine Policy Statement across the UK would be premature, we recommend to the Government and devolved administrations that concerns about certainty, flexibility and coverage be reflected and addressed in plans as they are developed, thereby ensuring that strategic marine planning is seen as the primary platform for managing competing demands. A distinction must be drawn between marine planning on the one hand and the licensing of individual marine developments on the other. (Recommendation 6)

88.  We also considered alternative approaches that have been taken to marine planning around the North Sea. The Dutch government adopted a 'North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda' in 2014. The document is described as an "exploration of ambition, potential, challenges and possible measures", and was drawn up in close consultation with stakeholders and with civil society, including children. Co-operation with other Member States is a recurring theme, as are nature, energy, multi-functional use of the seas, connection between land and sea, and shipping. The Agenda notes that officials from other North Sea countries were consulted and that they "were indeed surprised by the focus of The Netherlands on the longer term but [were] also of the opinion that this is an interesting approach."[151] Since publication of the Agenda, the Dutch government has launched a consultation on its 2016-2021 Maritime Spatial Plan, which integrates elements of the Agenda.[152]

89.  We welcome the 20 year vision under the first English marine plans, but we can discern no long term strategic planning for the seas around the UK as a whole, or even around England. This is in stark contrast to the Dutch approach, which sets a vision to 2050. Management of the seas must not only focus on the present: it must take into account potential future developments and must do so in a way that is credible for users. This requires a long term vision. We urge the UK Government and devolved administrations to consider the development of a strategy akin to, and ideally aligned with, the Dutch North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda. (Recommendation 7)

Regulatory tensions


90.  We heard that, in certain cases, regulatory tension was hindering co-operation. Dr Peter Jones from University College London argued that "the major challenges for improving co-operation to improve how [marine planning] is governed are actually between different [Commission] policies, rather than between different Member States."[153] He cited in particular the inconsistencies between the MSFD, the Biodiversity Directives (Habitats and Birds[154]), the MSPD, the Renewable Energy Directive, the CFP, the Environmental Assessment and the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directives.[155] One result of such inconsistencies was the failure under the CFP to protect areas—such as the Dogger Bank—identified under the Habitats and Birds Directives as sensitive.[156] As set out in Box 10, all Member States with a direct management interest in a fishery should agree to a recommendation for fisheries management in a protected area. The MCS suggested that "the lower ambitions of other Member States, such as the Dutch, following lobbying by their fishermen" were preventing the UK from implementing protected areas under the Habitats Directive.[157]

Box 10: Aligning the CFP and the Habitats and Birds Directives
Where a Member State considers that other Member States have a direct management interest in a fishery affected by measures that need to be adopted for the purposes of complying with the Habitats and Birds Directives, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) requires that the Member State provide all necessary supporting information to the Commission and to other affected Member States. All Member States with an interest may submit a joint recommendation within six months, following which the Commission should adopt the measures within three months. If it is not possible for all interested Member States to agree, the Commission may either submit a legislative proposal for agreement by the European Parliament and Council or, in urgent cases, it may adopt measures itself for a period of 12 months, which may be extended once for a further 12 months.[158]

91.  The Minister, George Eustice MP, was confident that the EU was trying to align its policies more effectively. He pointed to the increased alignment between the MSFD and the CFP as a result of the recent CFP reform.[159] The Commission made a similar point and also drew our attention to the close co-ordination of efforts to identify technologies that would help industry to implement sulphur emission control areas in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.[160]

92.  The European Commission admitted that policy development could take place in silos but argued that this was a common problem across all public administrations.[161] WWF and RSPB hoped that the appointment of a Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs[162] would help in co-ordinating distinct, but overlapping, EU rules.[163] In his introductory statement at his pre-appointment hearing in the European Parliament, Commissioner Vella saw the elements of his portfolio as a natural fit: "Sustainability is the key principle in all areas of my portfolio, with its economic, social and environmental dimensions."[164] On the other hand, Dr Jones was concerned that "the agenda behind the broadening of that brief would appear to have been to focus on promoting blue growth."[165]


93.  The European Environment Agency (EEA) also expressed concern that implementation of the various Directives could be incoherent, even within one Member State: "an objective from a particular Directive will be fully implemented that is disconnected from the related objective that will be implemented through another pathway."[166] WWF agreed: "the question really comes down to the implementation of those different Directives and whether that is still recognising the consistencies between them."[167] This bears out the Commission's Report on implementation of the MSFD, which indicated: "Member States have in some instances not systematically built on existing EU legislation." A specific example related to the failure of Member States to make a clear link to the Water Framework Directive[168] when defining good environmental status for hydrographical changes, which often occur in coastal zones.[169]

94.  There was further concern over the different approaches by Member States to the implementation of single pieces of legislation. The Commission's Report on the first phase of implementation of the MSFD criticised the different approaches, around single seas, to defining Good Environmental Status under the Directive. While the North East Atlantic region, including the North Sea, demonstrated the greatest level of coherence, there was still "significant room for improvement".[170] This criticism was accepted by the UK Government.[171] Professor Elliott stated: "If the Dutch do it one way and the British do it another way, we are going to have chaos in the middle".[172]

95.  Some witnesses stressed the need for guidance from the Commission on implementation of EU policies affecting the marine environment. Professor Austen argued: "the new Commissioner needs to encourage a standardised approach across the EU to implementation of its Directives."[173] Professor Elliott, on the other hand, acknowledged that greater direction by the Commission was not always welcome.[174]

96.  The Commission explained that it can issue guidance "that helps develop a common understanding of what exactly a particular legal instrument means, or how it can best be applied, [such as on] the application of environment legislation in estuaries in the European Union."[175] The Commission also told us that it was developing a work programme, to be completed by 2018, to strengthen co-operation and dialogue on the MSFD.[176] In the meantime, the European Commission's Work Programme for 2015 promises a 'fitness check' of the Habitats and Birds Directives.[177]

97.  We welcome the appointment of a European Commissioner responsible for both environmental policy and maritime affairs. An important priority for the new Commissioner should be to ensure that EU legislation affecting the marine environment is consistent. We recommend that the Commission publish guidance for Member States on implementation of such legislation at national level, to improve consistency both between Member States and within the Member States. (Recommendation 8)

98.  In the short term, we recommend that the fitness check of the Habitats and Birds Directives should include assessment of the coherence of the implementation of those Directives with related legislation, such as the Common Fisheries Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. (Recommendation 9)

99.  We also recommend that the fitness check consider the desirability of requiring Member States to co-operate with one another in designating sites under the Habitats and Birds Directives in order to develop ecologically coherent networks of such sites. (Recommendation 10)


100.  The NFFO told us that governance of the marine environment "is best understood in terms of layers, because some of the legislation and therefore the decisions will be made at European level." Other decisions would be taken at the national, regional and local levels respectively.[178] The Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO) confirmed that the aquaculture industry got "caught in all tiers" of governance from the CFP at EU level to development consent at the local level.[179]

101.  The complexity of governing marine planning around the North Sea was set out by the NSC: "it differs quite a lot from country to country whether competence on coastal and [marine planning] is found at local, regional or national level."[180] COSLA explained that coastal management had implications for inland and inshore planning as well as for broader local economic development considerations. It was therefore necessary that any further co-operation on marine issues reflected "more explicitly the principle of multi-level governance."[181] Similarly, the Scottish Government was clear that "Local, national and European issues have to be dealt with at appropriate levels."[182] The NSC described involvement of the regions in work on the draft plans and strategies under the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD) as "essential" to the success of the Directive.[183]

Box 11: North Sea Commission
The North Sea Commission is a co-operation platform for local authorities and regions around the North Sea. It currently includes 34 regions from eight countries around the North Sea—Scotland (seven representatives), England (one), France (one), The Netherlands (four), Germany (two), Denmark (three), Sweden (three) and Norway (thirteen).[184]

It aims to develop partnerships between regional and local authorities which face the challenges and opportunities presented by the North Sea. Through dialogue and formal partnerships, the NSC seeks to promote common interests, especially in relation to European Union institutions, national governments and other organisations dealing with issues that are relevant to the North Sea.

The main objectives of the North Sea Commission are:

·  To promote and create awareness of the North Sea region as a major economic entity within Europe;

·  To be a platform for developing and obtaining funding for joint development initiatives;

To work on strategic policy and lobby work at European level for a better North Sea region.[185]

102.  The NSC brings local and regional authorities around the North Sea together (see Box 11). In contrast to Scottish local authorities, English local authorities are not, with one exception (Southend-on-Sea), engaged in the NSC.[186] The NSC offered two reasons for this. First, there was a lack of clarity over the most appropriate type of region that should be represented, a decision which is linked to sub-national governance arrangements in each country.[187] The second reason was financial:

    "You have to pay fees to be a member, first, of the CPMR [Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe],[188] and, secondly, some of the fees go to the North Sea Commission. In these difficult times of budget cuts and trying to find priorities, I think we have lost quite a few members. We still struggle today to keep the membership up and to make sure that members get value and that we are giving something back. That is an important part of our work."[189]

103.  The Dutch government has expressed its support for the NSC and has actively supported Dutch local authority involvement.[190] In the introduction to its recent North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda, the Dutch government confirmed that it would consult local authorities on how the local authorities and the government could "accelerate towards a North Sea wide approach from The Netherlands."[191]

104.  Despite the lack of English engagement in the NSC, the UK Government gave various examples of local recognition of the value of the maritime economy. The Government explained that some Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), such as Solent and Anglia, were strongly engaged with the marine business environment and that local authorities were involved where an offshore development may have an onshore impact.[192] Other groups engaged with local authorities in managing and working with the marine environment included Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities and Fisheries Local Action Groups.[193]

105.  We support the principle that EU regional co-operation on marine issues should involve regional and local authorities as well as the EU and its Member States. We see an important role for the North Sea Commission as a forum for bringing regional and local authorities together.

106.  The engagement in England by some Local Enterprise Partnerships in marine issues demonstrates an acknowledgement that local economic growth can be derived from the sea. We therefore regret the lack of English local authority engagement in the North Sea Commission, particularly in contrast with the greater level of engagement by Scottish local authorities and those elsewhere. We recognise that there are financial consequences of membership, but there are nevertheless significant benefits to be gained from co-operation. We therefore recommend that the UK Government and the Local Government Association collaborate to identify and address barriers, including resources, to improved engagement by English local authorities in the work of the North Sea Commission. (Recommendation 11)

93    Q1 Back

94   Study on Blue Growth and Maritime Policy within the EU North Sea Region and the English Channel Back

95    Q32 (Matt Nichols) Back

96   Written evidence from WWF (RMC0010) Back

97   Written Evidence from Wildlife and Countryside Link (RMC0008) Back

98   Environmental Audit Committee, Marine Protected Areas (First Report, Session 2014-15, HC Paper 221) Back

99   Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Marine Conservation Zones: Consultation on Sites Proposed for Designation in the Second Tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (January 2015): [Accessed 6 February 2015]  Back

100    Q75 (Dr Howell) Back

101    Q17 (Jacopo Moccia) Back

102    Q121 Back

103   Written evidence from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (RMC0009) Back

104   MASPNOSE, Preparatory Action on Maritime Spatial Planning in the North Sea (May 2012): [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

105    Q101 (Dr Dunn) Back

106   Written evidence from Wildlife and Countryside Link (RMC0008) Back

107    Q22 (Jacopo Moccia) Back

108   Written evidence from Oil and Gas UK (RMC0015) Back

109   Ibid. Back

110   Ibid. Back

111   Clean North Sea Shipping, Clean North Sea Shipping Recommendations, (March 2014): [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

112   Written evidence from the North Sea Commission (RMC0003) Back

113    Q75 (Dr Howell) Back

114    Q61 Back

115    Q76 (Dermot Grimson) and  Q17 (Nick Medic) Back

116    Q73 (Dermot Grimon) Back

117   HM Government, Scotland in the United Kingdom: An enduring settlement, Cm 8990, January 2015, p 62: [Accessed 16 February 2015] Back

118    Q61  Back

119    Q76 (Susan Kidd) Back

120   ACCSEAS, 'New research by ACCSEAS highlights growing safety concerns for North Sea shipping traffic': [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

121    Q32 (Kate Clarke) Back

122   Amendments to shipping lanes or proposals for new shipping lanes are proposed by IMO Member States and agreed by the IMO's Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) before being put forward for adoption by the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO. Back

123   International Maritime Organisation, Guidance note on the preparation of proposals on ships. Routeing systems and ship reporting systems for submission to the sub-committee on safety of navigation, (January 2003): [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

124   International Maritime Organisation, What it is, (October 2013): What%20it%20is%20Oct%202013_Web.pdf [Accessed 12 February 2015] Back

125   UK Marine Policy Statement Back

126   Written evidence from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (RMC0002) Back

127    Q75 (Dr Howell) Back

128    Q104 (Eleanor Stone) Back

129    Q76 (Susan Kidd) Back

130   Written evidence from the Marine Conservation Society (RMC0011) Back

131   Written evidence from Wildlife and Countryside Link (RMC0008) Back

132    Q61 (Bertie Armstrong) Back

133   Written evidence from COSLA (RMC0006)  Back

134    Q18 Back

135    Q77 [Dermot Grimson] Back

136   Written evidence from North Sea Commission (RMC0003) Back

137   European Union Committee, No Country is an Energy Island: Securing Investment for the EU's Future (14th Report, Session 2012-13, HL Paper 161) Back

138    Q19 (Nick Medic) Back

139    Q4 Back

140   UK Marine Policy Statement Back

141   Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, A Description of the marine planning system for England (March 2011): [Accessed 16 February 2015] Back

142    Q74 Back

143    Q123  Back

144   Written evidence submitted by The Scottish Government (RMC0014) Back

145    Q125 (John Robb) Back

146    Q20 (Mark Pearce) Back

147    Q103 (Eleanor Stone) Back

148    Q125 (John Robb) Back

149   Scottish Government, Scotland's National Marine Plan, (11 December 2014): Resource/0046/00465865.pdf [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

150   Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs, Climate and Environment Committee, Report on Scotland's National Marine Plan, 2nd Report, 2015 (Session 4), SP Paper 659: S4_RuralAffairsClimateChangeandEnvironmentCommittee/Reports/rur-15-02w.pdf [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

151   Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda (28 July 2014): [Accessed 6 March 2015] Back

152   Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Draft Policy Document on the North Sea 2016-2021 (December 2014): Draft%20Policy%20Document%20on%20the%20North%20Sea%202016-2021_3917.pdf [Accessed 16 February 2015]  Back

153   Written evidence from Dr Peter Jones (RMC0001) Back

154   Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds, (OJ L 20, 26 January 2010, p 7) Back

155   Written evidence from Dr Peter Jones (RMC0001) Back

156    Q133 (Dr Jones) and  Q101 (Dr Dunn) Back

157   Written evidence from the Marine Conservation Society (RMC0011) Back

158   Regulation (EU) No 1380/1013, Article 11, (OJ L 354, 28 December 2013, p 35) Back

159    Q118 Back

160    Q2 Back

161    Q2 Back

162   Karmenu Vella was appointed as European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries with effect from 1 November 2014. Under the previous Commission, responsibility for Environment on the one hand and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on the other hand was split between two different Commissioners. Back

163    Q100 Back

164   Hearing by the European Parliament, Introductory Statement of Commissioner-Designate Karmenu Vella, (29 September 2014): [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

165    Q130 Back

166    Q53 Back

167    Q100 (Dr Dodds) Back

168   Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, (OJ L 327, 22 December 2000, p 1) Back

169   Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Commission Report: The first phase of implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive: The European Commission's assessment and guidance, SWD(2014) 49 Back

170   Report from the Commission: The first phase of implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive: The European Commission's assessment and guidance, COM (2014) 97  Back

171   Written evidence from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (RMC0002) Back

172    Q130 Back

173    Q130 Back

174    Q130 Back

175    Q3 Back

176    Q6 Back

177   Annex to the Communication from the Commission: Commission Work Programme 2015, A New Start COM(2014) 910ANNEX 3 Back

178    Q63 (Barrie Deas) Back

179    Q59 (Prof Thomas) Back

180   Written evidence from the North Sea Commission (RMC0003) Back

181   Written evidence from COSLA (RMC0006) Back

182   Written evidence from The Scottish Government (RMC0014) Back

183   Written evidence from the North Sea Commission (RMC0003) Back

184   North Sea Commission, 'Member Regions': [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

185   North Sea Commission Homepage: [Accessed 6 February 2015] Back

186    Q28 (Kate Clarke) Back

187    Q47 (Kate Clarke) Back

188   The CPMR includes 150 regions from around Europe: [Accessed 13 February 2015] Back

189    Q47 (Kate Clarke) Back

190   North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda, p 68 Back

191   North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda, p vii Back

192    Q123 (Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP) Back

193    Q123 (George Eustice MP) Back

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