Recreation : Management : Overview

Overview of recreation management

In the context of the planning system

Plans and projects

In the context of other conservation designations

In the Context of the Planning System

Local authority consent is required for developments occurring within their jurisdiction, although certain ‘permitted developments’ are consented under General Development Orders. Although developments beyond MLWM do not normally fall within the auspices of local authority control, all associated landside access and infrastructure development requires local authority consent. These consents are subject to appeal to the respective Secretary of State.

Local authority policy is set out in unitary development and structure plans, at county level, and local plans, at district and borough level. Different plans are applicable across the UK and within the individual countries. In addition, many coastal local authorities have now completed, or are in the process of drawing up, coastal strategies designed to provide a strategic overview of all planning matters related to coastal areas. Furthermore, regional planning is becoming an increasingly important third tier of control in England.

In response to increasing pressures on the coast and the confusing division of institutional responsibility, there has been a move towards a more integrated approach to coastal management in recent years. Various agencies and bodies are currently involved in developing plans and policies which have relevance to the marine environment. These include: Local Environment Agency Plans (LEAPS); catchment management plans; estuary, firths and harbour management plans; heritage coast management plans; coastal recreation strategies; and coastal zone management plans. Each of these management strategies has a specific function, although in certain areas there may be considerable overlap.

To support the development of these plans, the formation of fora and dissemination groups encompassing a wide range of interest groups has become increasingly common. This has extended the decision making process beyond traditional structures.

Many of these plans, policies and fora may already exist on European marine sites or may be in the process of being established.

Plans and projects

These guidelines focus on the management of activities. Operations requiring permissions or consents such as development proposals are subject to a separate assessment process , briefly described below. Relevant authorities and other competent authorities are responsible for processing and making decisions on consents, authorisations, licences and permissions sought in mSAC areas. These are known as ‘plans or projects’ and although they are dealt with by relevant and competent authorities they do not fall directly within the remit of management schemes. Instead, DETR/WO recommends the establishment of advisory mechanisms or procedures by the management groups for handling such applications.

The competent authorities are required to consider, in consultation with the nature conservation bodies, whether an application is likely to have a significant effect on the mSAC site. Where it is determined that the plan or project is likely to have such an effect, either by itself or in combination with other plans or projects, a more detailed assessment is required. Depending on the location, size, scale and significance of the proposal, this assessment may be in the form of either an environmental impact assessment (EIA) or an alternative type of assessment. The choice of assessment technique by the competent authority is based on the advice of the statutory nature conservation agencies.

The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) in their guidance document, European Marine Sites in England and Wales: A Guide to the Conservation Regulations (1998) suggests that the precautionary principle should underlie the decision making process, but that each proposal must be judged on its own individual merits. Even where a proposed plan or project is shown to have a significant effect on the site, there are provisions for approving the application, for reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature. In such cases, Member States are required to instigate compensatory measures to maintain the overall conservation status of the Annex I & II features.

European marine sites in the Context of Other Conservation Designations

Within the coastal environment there are many different nature conservation designations designed to protect, maintain or enhance various elements which form integral parts of the marine environment. Some are concerned with landscape conservation, specific species protection or habitat protection, for example. Table 8.1 illustrates various coastal designations, including SACs and SPAs, their conservation role and their likely influence on recreation.

When considering the role played by legislation and designation in coastal protection and management of human activities it is important to highlight the existence in Scotland of a common law right of recreation on the foreshore. This right to undertake leisure activities can greatly limit the ability of relevant authorities and site managers to restrict activities in Scottish sites. This places even greater emphasis on the value of voluntary management techniques and consultation. Scottish Natural Heritage is in the process of producing a publication which examines Scottish legal requirements concerning this right of access.

Comparison of coastal designations in European marine sites


Next Section