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Sustainable Marine Development 

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Natural England is leading the multi-year POSEIDON project (Planning Offshore Wind Strategic Environmental Impact Decisions) which seeks to support the expansion of sustainable offshore wind alongside thriving marine nature. This will be achieved through updated spatial models for the species and habitats most vulnerable to offshore wind impact and an integrated risk and opportunity map.

The project is part of the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme (OWEC) led by The Crown Estate, in partnership with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. POSEIDON brings together industry, academia, and government, including the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC).

POSEIDON started by collating existing data about seabirds, marine mammals, and the seabed to identify gaps in the knowledge base. These are now being filled through a two-year survey campaign. Digital Aerial Surveys of seabirds and marine mammals are taking place in the North Sea and the Irish Sea with benthic data collection in the North Sea, the Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea and the English Channel. The new data collected through POSEIDON will be made publicly available via the Marine Data Exchange with the launch of the final mapping and modelling tools planned in September 2025.

The SUDG has written to three Secretaries of States to state they do not recommend moving away from environmental legislation such as the Habitat Regulations and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, which are well established and well understood.

SUDG Letter to SoS for BEIS DLUHC and DEFRA_Marine industries reinforce the need for stabi
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The SUDG believe that considerable improvements could be made to the length and complexity of the consenting process, the time it takes to reach a decision and the bureaucracy associated with gaining consent, but that most improvements could be achieved by better implementation of the existing legislation rather than widespread planning reform.

As a group, the SUDG has been discussing how to make net gain a success in coastal and marine environments for a number of years, working with other stakeholder to understand the challenges and opportunities that net gain will present. Throughout discussions, there has been a general consensus amongst all stakeholders that for net gain to be successful in the coastal and marine environments, it must be delivered strategically, avoiding a piecemeal approach. This is a fundamental component of successful net gain and should be the overarching driver for developing a delivery approach.

SUDG response to Defra's Marine Net Gain Principles_v2
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