Marine Planning

Our seabed resources are some of the richest in the world, underpinning the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind and supporting vital national infrastructure.

As well as managing and leasing sites offshore, our expert teams are uniquely well placed to look at the bigger picture across a breadth of sectors, from offshore wind to cables and pipelines and marine aggregates, carefully managing competing demands for space on our busy seabed, as well as helping to unlock opportunities for sustainable development.

We do this in the context of marine policy and statutory marine plans, by working to address key consenting and planning challenges, facilitate better information sharing, optimise data and engage closely with industry stakeholders, from regulators and statutory bodies to national and local government. In this way, we are helping to overcome common barriers to development and bring down costs, helping to make the UK seabed one of the most attractive places globally to invest.

Marine Data Exchange

A great example of this approach is the Marine Data Exchange, established by The Crown Estate in 2013, to store, manage and share offshore survey data collected by our customers throughout the lifetime of their projects. This resource, now one of the biggest sources of marine data in the world, is helping to make valuable data freely accessible, promote collaboration within the sector, reduce survey costs and ultimately de-risk investment offshore.

To explore the types of data held on the MDE see our latest report here.


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.


The Crown Estate logo on a wall

Ed Salter

Senior Marine Planning Manager

Portrait shot of G Tomlinson

Greg Tomlinson

Senior Habitats Regulations Assessment Manager, Marine

Portrait shot of C Bradbury

Chelsea Bradbury

Marine Evidence Manager

Portrait shot of M Moore

Michelle Moore

Senior Marine Spatial Planning Manager

The Crown Estate logo on a wall

Sion Roberts

Marine Consents Manager

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