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15. Planning and management in the estuary

Who does what?

o Development Plans are prepared by local planning authorities.

o. Marine SAC Management Schemes are prepared by a management group made up of relevant authorities with jurisdiction in the marine area.

o Contingency plans for emergency response/ counter-pollution measures are prepared by local authorities, the Environment Agency, statutory harbour authorities and the emergency services in a locality.

o Estuary Management Plans are prepared by partnerships of local authorities, agencies and others.

o Local Environment Agency Plans are prepared by the Environment Agency.

o Shoreline Management Plans are prepared by coastal defence authorities (Environment Agency or maritime local authorities) acting individually or as part of coastal defence groups.

o Local Agenda 21 Strategies are co-ordinated by local authorities.

o Countryside Strategies are prepared by local authorities.

Stated Government aims:

The Government's aims for the coast are listed within Policy Guidelines for the Coast (1995). Within this document, themes and priorities for the coast include:

At local levels the guidelines suggest that:

In referring to non-statutory estuary management plans, the guidelines state that such plans:
'should reflect a broad and balanced approach. All parties are asked to involve themselves actively in the plan process to the fullest practical (and where relevant, statutory) extent of their respective responsibilities'.
The guidelines also note that local, county and regional conferences can help to:

The report by the House of Commons Environment Select Committee into Coastal Zone Protection and Planning (1992) was a landmark for UK coastal/ estuary management. It raised the profile of coastal issues in the UK, stressing the need for a strategic coastal management system for the British coast and suggesting a number of possible improvements to the organisational, policy and planning framework for coastal areas. In response to this report the Government has published a range of documents, clarifying coastal policy and suggesting possible ways forward:

Planning Policy Guidance Note 20: Coastal Planning (DoE/ Welsh Office, 1992)

However, it should be noted several of these documents now only apply to the English coast. Planning Guidance (Wales) (Welsh Office, 1996) has replaced all PPGs previously issued by the Department of the Environment and Welsh Office, including PPG 20. A series of Technical Advice Notes has been issued by the Welsh Office, including one on Coastal Planning.


International context

Current and future management of the Severn Estuary needs to be seen in an international, European, and national as well as local context. At an international level, over fifty nations have now implemented coastal/ estuary programmes. This is partly due to the support and momentum provided by international bodies, including the United Nations and its agencies, over the last twenty years. International events, such as the Rio Earth Summit (1992) and the World Coast Conference (1993), have been particularly important, focusing world-wide attention on coastal management as well as disseminating guidelines and objectives for sustainable coastal management. At the Earth Summit, coastal nations agreed to the following principles and needs of ocean, coastal and estuary management:

integrated policy and decision-making processes/ instruments,
integration of sectoral programmes
full public participation
education and training programmes
coastal and marine use plans
contingency planning
conservation, restoration of critical habitats
measures to maintain bio-diversity, productivity of marine species/ habitats
preventative and precautionary approaches
information on systems and users
Environmental Impact Assessment
(Source : Agenda 21, 1992 : Chapter 17)

In addition, within the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), Article 6 requires Member States to:
'develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or adapt for this purpose existing strategies, plans or programmes which shall reflect, inter alia, the measures set out in this Convention.'

In response to this, the UK Government has published Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan (1994), which provides a framework for action to maintain and enhance UK biodiversity through implementation of local and national initiatives. Within the Action Plan, the UK Biodiversity Steering Group has produced a Habitat Statement for estuaries and saltmarshes, setting out a number of measures to conserve, enhance and re-create estuarine and saltmarsh habitats. It has also undertaken to produce costed estuary and saltmarsh habitat action plans, although none exists as yet for the Severn.

Estuary management in Europe

Although there is much European legislation which contributes to the protection of the coastal and estuarine environment, there are few measures which specifically concern the coast. The fifth European Community Environmental Action Programme suggests various targets and instruments for coastal policy (Table 15.1), but a European directive has not been forthcoming. However, the European Commission's demonstration programme, which draws on coastal management experience within Europe, should lead to more informed decisions on possible action.

In addition to European regional policy, the funding programmes of the European Commission have had a major impact on the redevelopment and protection of the European coastal zone. For example, the European LIFE programme and INTEREG have aided projects promoting sustainable development and environmental quality in coastal and estuarine areas. The Severn Estuary benefits from involvement in just one project funded in this way (Cybestuaries - see overleaf) .

Table 15.1: Fifth European Community Environmental Action Programme: coastal policy


o Sustainable development of coastal zones and their resources in accordance with the carrying capacity of coastal environments.


o Includes the foreshore, coastal waters and estuaries, together with coastal land up to the limit of marine or coastal influence.

(to the year 2000)

o higher priority to the environmental need of coastal zones through, inter alia, better co-ordination between relevant EC policies at the EC, national and regional level
o operational framework for integrated planning and management
o development of criteria for better balance of land use and conservation and use of natural resources
o raising awareness of the public, competent authorities and economic sectors


o framework of integrated management plans at appropriate levels
o better exchange of knowledge and experience
o creation and improvement of databases and relevant indicators
o pilot projects on integrated management of coastal zones
o information campaigns, education, professional training, financial support for demonstration projects and innovative approaches (LIFE)
o improvement of criteria to ensure sustainability of projects and programmes

(Source: EU, 1992)

Les Esturiales

Severn Estuary local authorities belong to Les Esturiales - a partnership of local authorities responsible for aspects of the management of five of Europe's major estuaries (the Tagus, Clyde, Loire, Wear and the Severn). The Les Esturiales Charter (1992) recognises the unique environmental and economic character of estuaries and promotes the sustainable management and development of these areas through co-operative actions, including exchange of experience, lobbying and technical projects. Projects undertaken include a comparative environmental study undertaken in 1993 which provided basic background material on the state of each estuary and its management. A current project, Cybestuaries, is developing Good Practice guidelines and training material using multi-media techniques, principally a CD-ROM, to assist with the sustainable management of Europe's estuaries and is drawing on the emerging experience of Les Esturiales. The value of such co-operative work has been recognised in the European Commission's spatial strategy Europe 2000+.

National context

A clear national context for planning and management of the estuary is provided by the
countryside agencies. English Nature is encouraging the sustainable use of estuaries
through its Estuaries Initiative as part of its Campaign for the Living Coast. English Nature has promoted and facilitated the preparation of non-statutory integrated estuary management plans for each of England's estuaries and has encouraged the establishment of estuary management groups to guide and implement these plans. The plans are intended to 'build on, support and inform the existing planning and management structure operating on estuaries' and involve relevant local authorities, Harbour Authorities and others with English Nature providing appropriate support. The Countryside Council for Wales has recently outlined its policies and proposals for the seas, shores and coastal areas of Wales in Seas, shores and coastal areas (1996). In this document Countryside Council for Wales has stated that it will encourage a similar approach to estuary management as that being encouraged by English Nature. The Severn Estuary Strategy is supported financially by both agencies as well as many other organisations with an interest in the estuary and its management.

Local Context

In addition to the many Acts of Parliament and planning and regulatory powers exercised by a number of bodies, there are byelaws which seek to limit activities in some parts of the estuary. As described above and in chapter 2, there is an increasing amount of co-ordination and co-operation between these bodies and a good deal of consultation between them, and with the public, on draft proposals and plans. The organisations involved are aiming to improve the quality of their plan-making, the information available and their consultation processes.

There are several types of plans around the estuary. Some of these are Statutory, for example Development Plans. Other plans are non-statutory and aim to co-ordinate and plan actions, for example, Local Environment Agency Plans and Local Agenda 21 strategies. One aim of the Severn Estuary Strategy is to develop a non-statutory Plan to aid the integration of other plans, policies and actions. Figure 15.1 shows the range of plans which are currently operational or in preparation for the Severn Estuary area.

Figure 15.1: Plans around the Severn Estuary

The Severn Estuary Strategy

The Severn Estuary Strategy is an independent partnership. It was set up by local authorities, Government agencies and other organisations to achieve a co-ordinated approach to the wise use and management of the estuary. Representatives from a range of interests are already involved including ports and harbours, business and industry, conservation, recreation and archaeological groups.

The Strategy will work towards the development of the Severn Estuary Management Plan with everyone who is involved in the estuary.

The Strategy is described in more detail in chapter 1.

Development plans

The statutory role of local authorities in controlling the use and development of land and property is aided by the preparation of statutory development plans. Local authority control of development under the Town and Country Planning Act extends to mean low water mark. Below the mean high water mark construction and development is controlled by Government departments and harbour authorities. Development plans contain policies and proposals which guide the location and nature of development and are prepared in the context of regional and national planning guidance. Regional Planning Guidance was issued for the South West two years ago (RPG10: 1994) and although this provides the land use planning context for Local Authority plans up until 2011, it is envisaged that revised guidance (taking note of Planning Policy Guidance Note no. 20, the proposed Special Area of Conservation and the Severn Estuary Strategy) will be submitted to the Government within the next couple of years. Currently, there is no Strategic Planning Guidance for Wales, although a preparatory document was submitted to the Secretary of State for Wales in 1993 by the Assembly of Welsh Counties.

Local authorities around the estuary have to prepare development plans (structure plans, local plans, minerals local plans and/or unitary development plans as appropriate). All development plans involve extensive consultation with statutory consultees, non-statutory consultees and the public. If necessary, issues are discussed at a Public Local Inquiries/ Examination in Public. Stages in this consultation are generalised below:

Authorities with coastlines along the Severn Estuary are at different stages in the preparation of their development plans - some have adopted plans, others are working at various stages on 'emerging' plans.

An analysis of development plans as at January 1997 indicates the relevant development plans around the estuary and is shown on Map 2.1.

A recent study undertaken by the University of Wales, Cardiff (1996) has highlighted development plan policies in the Severn Estuary area which are of particular relevance to estuary management, including those referring to coastal erosion and unstable land, tidal and fluvial defences, the river/ estuary and coastal landscape, fluvial and coastal nature conservation, and coastal pollution. The Scoping Study for the Severn Estuary Shoreline Management Plan has recommended that this study is updated and extended in Phase 2 of the Shoreline Management Plan.

Special Areas of Conservation Scheme of Management

Relevant authorities(1) have been given powers to establish management schemes for marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas under the EC Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora Directive (92/43/EEC: the 'Habitats' Directive) and Conservation of Wild Birds Directive (79/409/EEC; amendment 91/224/EEC: the 'Birds' Directive). Sites designated under these directives contribute to the European Union ecological network, Natura 2000, which aims to conserve internationally important species and habitats occurring through the European Union.

The Habitats Directive's main aim is:
to ensure that biodiversity is maintained through conservation of important, rare or threatened habitats and the habitats of certain species, and to make a contribution to sustainable development of the sites.

The main aim of the Birds Directive is:
to protect bird species within the European Union through the conservation of birds and important habitats for birds.

The Severn Estuary/ Môr Hafren has been recommended as a possible marine Special Area of Conservation (pSAC) because of its high diversity of habitats/ species of European importance, notably its subtidal sandbanks, and Atlantic salt meadows, inter-tidal mudflats and sandbanks, and estuarine environment.

After consultation with relevant and competent authorities(2) as well as other groups with interests in the candidate marine SACs, the Government and the European Commission have to agree on the sites to be designated. The Severn Estuary has not yet been put forward as a candidate SAC. Until it has gained European C approval, it will not be subject to regulation, although it is intended that a voluntary management scheme for this site should be set up as soon as conservation objectives and a management group of the relevant authorities have been established. The Government requires that the relevant authorities should consult widely and it is recommended that an advisory group would be set up for the purpose. Both English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales have a specific duty to advise on the conservation objectives for management schemes and on activities likely to harm SACs.

It should be noted that the Habitats Directive is concerned with plans, projects, activities and operations which may cause a 'significant' effect on the habitats and species noted in the proposed designation and in the overall 'integrity' of the site. This includes indirect effects, which may emanate from in or outside the site boundary. It is envisaged that management under the Habitats Directive will build on, co-ordinate or run in parallel with existing management initiatives.

(1) 'Relevant authority' is a term used by the Government to define those authorities who have powers of functions which have, or may have an impact on the marine environment in, or adjacent to a European Marine Site.

(2) 'Competent authority' is a term used by the Government to cover any public body or public office exercising legislative powers - whether on land or sea.

Emergency/ contingency plans

Separate responsibilities are imposed on local authorities, the Environment Agency, Statutory Harbour Authorities and the emergency services to develop and maintain plans for emergency response and, where appropriate, for counter-pollution measures. The overall co-ordination of marine pollution response is the responsibility of the Coastguard Agency's Marine Pollution Control Unit. They maintain the Government's National Contingency Plan which sets out the responsibilities and actions for responding to a major marine oil or chemical spill. The desirability of co-ordinating and harmonising these plans at a regional scale has been recognised by the publication of the Bristol Channel Emergency Plan. There are proposals that this should be extended to provide a co-ordinated response to marine pollution.

Emergency/ contingency plans for the marine environment may change because of:

Although most port and harbour authorities currently have no specific duty to prepare contingency plans, most authorities have accepted a responsibility to prepare such plans for the statutory limits of the port or harbour.

Local Environment Agency Plans

This Joint Issues Report is also part of the first phase in the preparation of the Local Environment Agency Plan (LEAP) for the Severn Estuary. In addition to this strategic-level plan, catchments around the major estuary have had, or are having, Local Environment Agency Plans produced for them. These will replace the Catchment Management Plans that were produced by the former National Rivers Authority. All areas will have Local Environment Agency Plans by the end of the century but most are yet to be produced. The current plans, either Catchment Management Plans or Local Environment Agency Plans are shown on Map 15.1.

Local Environment Agency Plans are the Agency's means of contributing to sustainable development. The plans prioritise the needs of the environment in an integrated way across all the Agency's interests. These include flood defence, water resources, inland navigation, conservation, fisheries and pollution as well as waste, integrated pollution control, contaminated land and air quality issues.

The production of the Local Environment Agency Plans for the Severn reflects the Agency's greater emphasis on sustainability, flexibility and partnerships, including those with local government and local communities. After a period of public consultation, an agreed Action Plan will be produced outlining the Agency's long-term vision for the area, and how this will be achieved through clear identification of responsibilities and implementation.

Map 15.2: Local Environment Agency Plans around the Severn Estuary

Shoreline Management Plans

Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) are prepared under joint guidance from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Welsh Office (May 1995, supplementing draft guidance of October 1993). SMPs will provide a strategic framework for decisions relating to the management of coastal defences along specified lengths of coast, taking account of coastal processes and other environmental and human issues and needs (Chapter 5).

SMPs are prepared by coastal local authorities, the Environment Agency, English Nature, English Heritage and their Welsh counterparts, the Countryside Council for Wales and Cadw; Welsh Historic Monuments as well as port and harbour authorities, Railtrack, Country Landowners' Associations, conservation and archaeological trusts.

Adopted plans will outline a preferred approach to shoreline management after having considered a range of coastal defence options, including whether the shoreline will be advanced, retreated, held on the existing line or allowed to find its own line.

The Severn Estuary/ Inner Bristol Channel area will be covered by three SMPs:

The Severn Estuary SMP
Brean Down of the English shore, north to Haw Bridge near Tewkesbury, and west to Lavernock Point on the Welsh coast;
Coastal Cell Group: Severn Estuary
Lead authority: North Somerset Council

Swansea Bay SMP
Worm's Head/ Rhossili eastwards to Lavernock Point
Coastal Cell Group: Swansea Bay
Lead authority: City and County of Swansea

Bridgwater and Bideford Bay SMP
Hartland Point eastwards to Brean Down
Coastal Cell Group: North Devon and Somerset
Lead authority: West Somerset District Council

All the SMPs have completed Phase 1 and are moving into Phase 2 where recommendations from the scoping exercise will be addressed. The estuary's shoreline will be sub-divided into self-contained management units and following clear guidelines, operating authorities will develop coastal defence strategies for each unit. The plan will then be finalised and adopted in Phase 3 following wide consultation.

To reduce overlap, increase efficiency and achieve consistency, a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed by the Severn Estuary Strategy, the Environment Agency and the local Coastal Cell Groups. This 'acknowledges the importance of working together during the development of the Estuary Management Plan, the Severn Estuary Local Environment Agency Plan and the three Shoreline Management Plans' and helps to minimise confusion about the aims of initiatives, reduce unnecessary repetition of work whilst allowing expertise and information to be shared.

Local Agenda 21

Agenda 21, the agenda agreed by all participating nations at the Earth Summit in 1992, stressed the importance of local involvement in ensuring sustainable development into the next century. It highlighted the role of local authorities in encouraging public participation through education, consultation and consensus-building. In response to this the Government produced the UK Strategy for Sustainable Development (1994). In this the government called upon each local authority to develop their own Local Agenda 21 strategies by the end of 1996. However, this is not a statutory requirement. Progress has been made by most councils around the Severn Estuary, although local government re-organisation has delayed implementation of some of the strategies.

Countryside strategies in Wales

The Countryside Council for Wales has encouraged the new unitary authorities to produce countryside strategies and integrated action programmes for rural areas, including coasts. In the Council's guidance notes (Guidelines for the production of countryside strategies and integrated action programmes, 1995; The future management of the countryside in Wales after local government reorganisation, 1995) Countryside Council for Wales advise that a countryside strategy should cover:

The advice also suggests that other topics, such as tourism and transport can be included where appropriate.

Countryside Council for Wales recommend that Countryside Strategies should be accompanied by integrated action programmes which will highlight immediate priorities and co-ordinate action between the different departments within an authority and their partnerships with other agencies, organisations and others, including voluntary local groups. It has been recommended that countryside strategies are prepared for a 5 year period and reviewed every 3 years, whereas integrated action programmes should cover a 3 year period and be reviewed annually. The first drafts of these plans have been produced for public consultation over the last few months.

The relationship between Countryside Strategies and other plans is clearly crucial. Strategies are intended to complement the statutory planning process, provide a framework for integrated action programmes, management plans or individual topic strategies, and be prepared within the overall context of an authority's Local Agenda 21.


Many issues in this report are related to one another. Issues raised in this chapter have particular links with those in all other chapters.


M1 Complexity of legislation

Several organisations and individuals have commented on the complexity of legislation in the coastal zone, which is seen as a hindrance to integrated estuary management. More than 80 Acts of Parliament deal with the regulation of coastal activities. In addition, there are private Acts and Orders such as those introduced by harbour authorities, hybrid Acts such as the Severn Bridges Act 1992 and byelaws controlling activities in specified areas.

Who is involved: Government, statutory authorities and others.

What is happening: English Nature recently commissioned a review and summary of byelaws in the Severn Estuary. The Department of the Environment have published a discussion paper on byelaw powers for the coast (DoE, 1996). Welsh Office is also consulting on the paper as it relates to Wales.

Some suggestions: Following the review, consideration could be given to making the byelaws for the estuary more widely known.

M2 Extent of regulation

Numerous comments have been received about the extent of regulation, and some of particular concern have been identified in the topic chapters. However, conflicting concerns have been expressed. On one hand a number of bodies have expressed concern about over-regulation of coastal activities. Many comments relate to the ever increasing number of EC directives which impinge on the management of coastal/ estuarine activities. Particular concerns have been expressed about development, ports and aggregate extraction. On the other hand some organisations and individuals believe that there is not enough regulation and statutory protection for the offshore environment. They compared it with the fairly comprehensive system which has evolved for land areas.

Who is involved: Government, statutory authorities and others.

Some suggestions: Voluntary and self-regulatory approaches to the management of certain estuarine activities, such as offshore recreation, could be explored further. Some de-regulation may be appropriate for some activities. Where regulations are deemed to be required, there may be scope for involving those affected at a local level in the framing of those policies.

M3 Enforcement of legislation

Several organisations have commented on difficulties encountered in enforcing legislation, particularly relating to the regulation of offshore recreation and fishing.

Who is involved: Government, statutory bodies and user groups.

What is happening: Ad hoc voluntary arrangements exist, depending on the level of conflict of activities. Some appear to work reasonably well.

Some suggestions: Consideration could be given to developing simple, but well designed and informed interpretation and volunteer warden programmes to both educate offshore users of relevant byelaws and improve enforcement of the byelaws.


M4 Inadequacies in coastal policy

Whilst the publication of Policy Guidelines for the Coast by the Department of the Environment (DoE) has been warmly welcomed for the English side of the estuary, the lack of such a document for the Welsh side has given rise to concern. Several individuals sought more detailed policy guidelines than in the DoE's document to guide local and regional-level estuary management. Its emphasis on preparation - rather than implementation - of non-statutory management plans has also received some criticism.

Who is involved: The Welsh Office; Inter-Departmental Group on Coastal Policy/ DoE

What is happening: Recent publication of DoE's Coastal Zone Management - towards best practice (1996). Severn Estuary Strategy participation in national and international workshops and seminars on estuary management, including English Nature's workshops and the Les Esturiales network.

Some suggestions: Consideration could be given to the production of a Welsh version of the Policy Guidelines for the Coast.

M5 Inadequacies in planning policy guidance for coastal areas

A number of individuals have referred to perceived inadequacies in planning policy guidance for coastal areas, particularly commenting on the perceived weak coastal content of Planning Policy Guidance (Wales).

Who is involved: Welsh Office, Department of the Environment.

What is happening: Consultation draft of Technical Advice Note on Coastal Planning issued by the Welsh Office (1996). A Welsh Coastal Forum was launched in March 1997, paralleling the English Coastal Forum already in existence.


M6 Complexity of the organisational framework

The plethora of organisations involved in coastal and estuarine matters, including the public, private and voluntary sectors, is viewed as a major impediment to integrated estuary management. The problem is particularly acute on the Severn Estuary where Welsh and English institutions come together. Although subdivision of responsibilities encourages high standards of performance, it may also inhibit discussion between relevant players.

Who is involved: All organisations.

What is happening: The Severn Estuary Strategy is producing a Who's Who in the Severn Estuary. They are also developing increased dialogue and understanding between organisations.

Some suggestions: Wide dissemination of the Who's Who. Participation in the Severn Estuary Strategy by organisations not currently involved would help improve understanding.

M7 Lack of co-ordination between organisations

Many comments refer to the lack of co-ordinated decision-making around the estuary, leading to unnecessary conflict. Specific reference has been made to a lack of co-ordination between agencies and between national and local tiers of individual bodies.

Major restructuring and the redefinition of the roles of many key organisations around the estuary has disrupted management efforts and may continue to do so. Local Government Re-organisation (in Wales and Avon), along with the formation of the Environment Agency, have been the most significant and major recent changes.

Who is involved: All organisations.

What is happening: The Severn Estuary Strategy and its proposed Working Groups should facilitate dialogue and co-ordination. The Standing Conference of Severnside Local Authorities has been re-formed. Several organisations have implemented Memoranda of Understanding which encourage co-operation and co-ordination.

Some suggestions: All organisations could make further efforts to co-ordinate their
plan-making activities with others in and around the estuary by involvement with the Severn Estuary Strategy.

M8 Public participation in management of the estuary

A considerable number of individuals and representatives of non-government organisations have expressed the need for further public participation and consultation on many matters relating to estuary development and management. Specific reference has been made to quangos, the recent erosion of local government powers and the role of corporations, notably the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation. The need for 'democratic development' is an issue in areas where large scale development projects are in progress or proposed around the estuary.

Who is involved: Everyone.

What is happening: The Severn Estuary Strategy and Local Agenda 21 projects aim to encourage public participation. Planning authorities undertake statutory consultation on development plans and non-statutory consultation on other strategies and initiatives. The Environment Agency has created local Area Environment Groups and regional advisory committees which include representatives of the local community and interest groups. Through the Local Environment Agency Planning process the Agency will consult widely about its activities and environmental targets.


M9 The complexity of the planning framework

A significant number of comments have been made regarding the number of plans and the complexity of the planning framework within the estuary. Within this context reference to 'new' plans, including the Severn Estuary Strategy, has been made.

Who is involved: All organisations which prepare plans for the Estuary or surrounding area.
What is happening: There is an increasing amount of co-ordination between organisations with plan-making powers and responsibilities.

Some suggestions: This document and the Strategy which will be developed from it should help to explain the role of various plans, and to improve awareness and co-operation between organisations and involvement of individuals in the planning process. There could be a continuing role for the Strategy in ensuring improved understanding.

M10 The need for co-ordination between management initiatives and plans

Specific reference has been made to the need for co-ordination between plans covering the estuary. Some references to difficulties, because of the different timing of plan preparation and revision, have also been made. This appears to be especially an issue for the preparation of development plans.

Who is involved: All those involved in the planning and management of the estuary

What is happening: There is a statutory requirement for development plans to consult neighbouring authorities in their preparation including consultation between English and Welsh authorities. The Environment Agency is working to co-ordinate its Local Environment Agency Plans around the estuary.

M11 Definition of an estuary zone for estuary management

A number of comments have made regarding the most suitable boundaries for the Severn Estuary Strategy's estuary management programme. It is widely recognised that the definition of such zones may depend on many factors, including administrative boundaries as well ecological, physical and pragmatic considerations.

Who is involved: The Severn Estuary Strategy, Severn Estuary Strategy working groups and others.

Some suggestions: The Severn Estuary Strategy working groups could examine possible boundaries in the light of experience gained in production of this document.


M12 Variations in the regional guidance around the estuary

Several comments have been made regarding potential difficulties arising from attempts to harmonise policies within development plans around the estuary, because of differences in regional planning guidance in Wales and England.

Who is involved: Severn Estuary Strategy; Welsh Office; Regional Conference(s); planning authorities; Standing Conference of Severnside Local Authorities.

What is happening: Mechanisms are being put into place to enable discussion of issues of common concern and resolution of conflicts. The Severn Estuary Strategy helps to link the different organisations with an interest in the estuary. The re-constitution of the Standing Conference of Severnside Local Authorities (SCOSLA) will ensure a strategic overview from a local government viewpoint.

M13 Different coastal policy frameworks/ guidance for either side of the estuary

As a consequence of the problems highlighted under M5 and M12 there are differences in approach to development planning on either side of the estuary. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that the county and district tiers of local government were replaced by unitary authorities in several localities, resulting in very different sizes of planning units around the estuary. The 'cascade of policies' is much stronger on the English side of the estuary.

Who is involved: Welsh Office; Regional Conference(s); planning authorities; Standing Conference of Severnside Local Authorities.

What is happening: Local authorities and other organisations are working together to minimise the efforts of re-organisation, plan-making and service delivery. This Joint Issues Document is one example of such co-operation and co-ordination.


M14 Gaps in the information required for estuary management

A number of bodies and individuals have expressed concern regarding the general lack of data relating to certain estuarine activities, notably recreational usage and access, along with inadequacies in the quality of some other information and lack of long-term data sets.

Who is involved: All organisations

What is happening: The Severn Estuary Strategy is compiling a Who's Who of user groups and organisations on the estuary. Cybestuaries is producing a CD-ROM which will detail the management of five European estuaries (including the Severn) and will be available in 1998 as an education and management tool. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is developing the regional coastal directory. Coastal Defence Groups are working on scoping studies for the Shoreline Management Plans.

Some suggestions: The output of the Working Groups and Local Agenda 21 Strategies could help maintain a focus for information gathering and collation.

M15 The need for a database and Geographical Information System (GIS) for estuary management

There have been several comments relating to the need for a database/ GIS to be developed specifically for an integrated estuary management. It has been suggested that the development of a GIS to supplement the relational database constructed as Phase I of the Severn Shoreline Management Plan, might be able to support the development of other estuary plans.

Who is involved: All organisations

What is happening: The Severn Estuary Strategy has started the process of joint working and sharing of data. The Cybestuaries project will disseminate 'good practice' information for estuary management.

Some suggestions: Within the audit described in M14, assessment of all databases and GIS relating to the management of the Severn could be compiled and assessed following on from the Shoreline Management Plan scoping study. This could provide preliminary information for a study of the viability, including the practicalities and costs, of constructing a system for integrated estuary management of the Severn.

M16 Inadequacies in monitoring and co-ordination of data

There is some concern that much monitoring effort is site-specific and that information collected may not be available generally. Much of that information has a commercial value and can be expensive to collect and assemble. There may be no overall view of the extent of data available.

Who is involved: All organisations.

What is happening: The Severn Estuary Strategy is encouraging the sharing and co-ordination of information.

M17 The provision of public information

Several bodies and individuals have expressed concern over the inadequate provision of public information and interpretation on a wide range of topics related to the Severn Estuary, notably on the cultural and economic assets of the estuary as well as its natural environment and conservation. Issues raised during the scoping process for this report have highlighted many ill-perceived notions concerning the estuary and its management: statements such as 'Severn Estuary water is dirty ... because it is brown' are commonplace.

Who is involved: All bodies with responsibilities/ information relating to estuarine use/ understanding

What is happening: The public participation which is an essential part of the work of the Severn Estuary Strategy will help to spread awareness and knowledge.

Some suggestions: Newsletters, public meetings, interpretation boards in appropriate locations, educational presentations. Publications on a variety of estuary topics could be produced following the style and content of the booklet produced by the Severn Estuary Conservation Group.


M18 Lack of strategic environmental assessment

Several comments have been made relating to the need for Strategic Environmental Assessment i.e. the large-scale environmental assessment of plans in the estuary.

Who is involved: Organisations involved in plan-making and assessment of proposals.

What is happening: The draft EC Directive on the strategic environmental assessment of plans and programmes

Some suggestions: A preliminary assessment of the potential and practicalities of applying SEA to the estuary could be made.

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