Effective planning critical for sustainable blue growth – Lesley Griffiths

10 Jan 2018 11:42 AM

Wales’ seas provide numerous exciting opportunities for ‘blue growth’, but effective planning is critical to ensure important natural resources are safeguarded, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths told AMs yesterday.

During a plenary debate following the launch of a formal consultation on the draft Welsh National Marine Plan last month, Lesley Griffiths described how the plan identifies the potential for growth in areas such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, shipping activity and, importantly, tourism and recreation activities. 

At the same time as recognising the potential of Wales’ seas, the Cabinet Secretary warned they need to be carefully managed to allow these diverse activities to continue and, where appropriate, grow alongside each other, in harmony with our natural environment.

The draft marine plan, the first of its kind in Wales, includes policies on a wide range of topics and activities, all available in a single document for the first time. This includes proposals aimed at safeguarding important natural resources. 

These policies will need to be taken account of by developers in bringing forward new proposals and by public authority decision makers when, for example, issuing licenses that permit certain activities.

Lesley Griffiths said:

“Wales has a long, proud maritime history and our seas are important to us. They are special, blessed with a wealth of natural resources, iconic seascapes and inspirational wildlife and we all have a collective interest in their future.  Unfortunately, at times, their significance may be overlooked.

“As our seas get busier, there is greater risk of conflict and potential to undermine marine resilience, therefore, strategic marine planning is critical.  With effective planning our maritime industries can grow and prosper, whilst our precious natural heritage is safeguarded.

“The proposals we have outlined in the draft Marine Plan recognise the special qualities of our seas and wildlife and the significant benefits they provide us.  

“The introduction of the plan represents an important step in bringing together a range of policies and organisations to help us focus on what matters, looking after our seas for the long term, recognising and tackling problems at an early stage and working collaboratively to deliver real results.

“The potential for Wales to benefit from “blue growth” is both exciting and significant.  By ensuring different sea users consider each others’ activities and the environment, as well as future potential, generations to come can continue to make the most of our seas”.