Our role in marine planning
As mangers of the seabed, we have a number of statutory obligations to consider through various piece of legislation such as the Habitats Regulations and the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
The Crown Estate is a competent authority under the Habitats Regulations. When we undertake leasing or licensing activity, we may need to conduct a plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). This process requires The Crown Estate to assess the impacts of the proposed leasing/licensing activity on designated sites of European important that form the Natura 2000 network, before seabed rights can be awarded. Throughout the assessment process, we are supported by expert independent advisors, and undertake consultation with the relevant UK statutory marine planning authorities, statutory nature conservation bodies and a number of non-governmental stakeholders. Our final decision to award rights is made in accordance with the outcome of the plan-level HRA process.
Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 we consider ourselves to be a public authority and therefore must have regard to marine policy documents in our decision making.
We are not the statutory marine planning authority – that role is undertaken by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in English waters, Welsh Ministers in Welsh waters, and the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Irish waters. However, we work closely with the marine planning authorities by actively sharing data and contributing to the statutory marine planning process.