Forming the management group

According to Government guidance the first step in the development of a management scheme for a European marine site is to form the management group of relevant authorities. There may be existing management structures that may be adapted for this purpose, such as estuary management plans, a coastal forum or a shadow SAC management scheme, but in other cases any relevant authority may take the initiative to establish the management scheme. For the larger, or more complex European marine sites it may be appropriate to set up the management scheme in a number of stages or to divide the site geographically whilst retaining the framework of the scheme.

Careful consideration needs to be given to how the management scheme could effectively build on, or run in parallel with, other plans to secure the conservation objectives of the site. The scheme of management focuses on operations and activities that may directly or indirectly cause deterioration or significant disturbance to the features for which the site is designated and the typical species associated with them. In any particular SAC, anything outside this remit need not be covered by the scheme of management, but may be considered by a voluntary estuary or coastal plan, and should be taken into account by all relevant authorities as part of their general ‘duty of care’. However, in practice, other features of management have been included within SAC management schemes on a voluntary basis with the agreement of all relevant authorities. Although there is no statutory backing to these elements, their inclusion within the management scheme draws all agreed management practices into one document.

It is important to involve non-statutory organisations in the management process. The advisory group is the only mechanism in the management scheme able to maximise the potential for developing effective voluntary mechanisms where possible. Consultation should also take place between relevant authorities and those competent authorities that are not relevant authorities (such as central government bodies) to ensure that they can fulfil their duty in a way that is consistent with the management scheme.

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