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From windfarms to bustling coastal towns - England’s first ever marine plans focus on the East of England in a bid to boost its £49bn marine economy

PUBLISHED: 11:41 02 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 02 April 2014

Scroby Sands Wind farm of the coast of Great Yarmouth and Caister in the North  Sea. Picture: Mike Page.

Scroby Sands Wind farm of the coast of Great Yarmouth and Caister in the North Sea. Picture: Mike Page.

England’s first ever plans for the future of our seas – covering the East coast - have been published today.

The marine plans - which provide guidance for sustainable development in English waters - cover the coast and seas from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe.

They have been developed by the Marine Management Organisation on behalf of the Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

An interactive tool explaining how marine plans affect the area also goes live today – the Marine Information System.

Marine plans will inform and guide decisions on development in marine and coastal areas, while conserving and enhancing the environment and recognising leisure uses too.

The aim is to reduce costs and increase certainty for developers, boosting economic and employment benefits for coastal communities and beyond.

The first two plans cover the East inshore and offshore areas, with a total of 11 plans covering all English waters anticipated by 2021.

Seas have become increasingly busy, with industries such as oil and gas, wind farms, shipping, aggregates and fishing competing for space with each other and with nature. The marine economy is currently worth more than £49bn a year and has the potential to grow significantly.

The East of England was chosen due to its range of marine related activities, from wind farms to bustling coastal towns.

Environment Secretary Owen Patterson said: “UK seas are home to one of the richest marine environments in the world and are currently worth more than £40bn a year to our economy.

“We are making sure that environmental considerations are embedded in every decision about proposed developments along the coast from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe and in our seas out to the maritime borders with the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

“By 2021, marine plans will cover the entire English marine area, supporting an estimated £50m of economic benefit each year and helping to promote sustainable development of the marine area”.

MMO chief executive James Cross added: “These plans are the culmination of years of work by government, industry, environmental organisations and many others.

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of sustainable marine development, cutting red tape for developers while taking full account of social and environmental impacts.”

The UK has one of the richest marine environments in the world, with more than 8,000 species recorded in our seas.

Plans will take full account of marine protected areas, recognising the wealth of species and habitats in our seas.

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