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Marine Information System (England)

England MSP Process


Displays the appropriate marine policy documents for all of England’s marine plan areas in an accessible online, quick reference format.


Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How can information on policies to be considered in marine planning be made accessible to MSP stakeholders and public authorities?
  • How can stakeholders ensure that their proposals are in line with the various policies that apply to the marine area?
  • How best can the marine planning authority ensure that marine planning and decision making is coherent with the aims of overarching national policy?

Implementation Context

To support the development of marine planning in England, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the responsible authority for marine planning, undertook a number of activities to facilitate MSP mechanisms across the six marine plan regions (which will include a total of 10 marine plans). A major activity was the development of an on-line interactive tool (the Marine Information System; MIS), published in July 2015, to provide access to information for stakeholders undertaking activities which may be influenced by marine planning.

Delivery of marine planning sits within a broader context of policy set out at a national level in the United Kingdom Marine Policy Statement, which provides the framework for preparing marine plans and taking decisions affecting the marine environment, in order to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the marine area. The online tool therefore addresses the need to ensure translation of national policy objectives into the implementation of marine plans at a regional level, and ensure consistency and coherence across the plan areas.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Provide access to the broad range of policy considerations for marine plans that will inform plan users during application and decision-making processes
  • Provide information on policies in a spatially-explicit manner, enabling users to search for marine plan policies within a user defined geographical area

The Marine Information System (MIS) is an interactive tool for marine licensing applicants and decision makers, supporting marine plan implementation. It displays policies for all adopted marine plans in an accessible online format and provides examples of how to consider these policies. The information is made accessible to stakeholders to inform marine licence applications (for those who may be considering submitting a proposal, for example for a renewable energy development or aggregate extraction), or for guidance in applying marine plans to decision making for public bodies responsible for reviewing applications, in line with the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

The MIS displays the appropriate marine policy documents for all of England’s marine plan areas in an accessible online, quick reference format. Policies have been categorised in to a range of topics (see Method, below) and within each policy category a map shows data related to each policy of adopted marine plans, alongside text setting out considerations that will aid in the interpretation of marine plan policies in the context of any given interest or proposal. The MIS also contains an interactive map that enables layering of marine plan policy data relating to particular areas of interest alongside information related to marine licenses.  

The MIS is not intended to be used in isolation for the purposes of decision making and in most cases additional site-specific assessments will be required to inform proposals (such as Environmental Impact Assessment; EIA). The term 'proposal' is used to cover all types of applications, decisions, developments and management measures.


In order to present the relevant information in the online tool, policies relating to the following topic areas were collated:

  • Aggregates
  • Cables
  • Climate change
  • Defence
  • Dredging and Disposal
  • Economic
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Fishing and Aquaculture
  • Governance
  • Ports and Shipping
  • Social and Cultural
  • Tourism and Recreation

These were compiled to be searchable per marine plan region in England (East, North-East, North-West, South, South-East, South-West) within which the ten English marine plans will be developed. An early version of the Marine Information System was published, and was amended and updated to account for comments received from users.

Main Outputs / Results

  • Publication of interactive online tool.


The tool is specifically designed to support the development of marine planning in England and therefore the data itself may not be directly applicable to other Member States, who will have their own national policies relating to marine use. However, in instances where there may be transboundary  / cross-jurisdictional elements to proposals (such as cabling between countries across the north sea), the easy access to policy stipulations provided will be of relevance to both project developers and public authorities.

More broadly, there are a number of elements which may be transferable to other contexts; firstly it highlights the relevance and importance of accessibility of information and a method by which this can be addressed. Feedback from the users of the MIS and it’s utility in the proposal preparation, planning and decision making process would be of use to other Member States who are also implementing or considering developing on-line tools. Secondly, collation of national policies provides a useful basis for understanding and discussing the various drivers and demands on the marine area (such as food security, energy security, conservation, etc.) and such presentation is important for understanding the context within which conflicts may arise within plan areas, and the level at which these need to be addressed. These issues are common to other maritime nations in Europe and the manner in which these are collated in the MIS may provide a starting point for others to consider.

Contact Person

Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

Email: (planning[at]marinemanagement[dot]org[dot]uk).


Responsible Entity

Marine Management Organisation

Costs / Funding Source