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Sustainable Marine Development 

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Congratulations to Peter Barham MBE, the Chair of the SUDG, for walking away with the first Bob Earll Award at the 2024 Coastal Futures Conference. Peter was recognised for his prolific contributions to ocean and coastal management during his career in environmental sustainability which spans over four decades. He is an outcome-focussed innovator, promoting different ways of working that help to build trust and consensus around often challenging issues by focussing on the importance of win-win outcomes.

Peter is a true champion of bringing people together to achieve a common goal, he has a unique ability to lift others up, by both encouraging and supporting colleagues, and making sure that everyone feels empowered to contribute to discussions and share their thoughts and opinions.

Peter has notably facilitated industry contributions to the development of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, the establishment of the Marine Management Organisation, the development of the Marine Works Regulations and the UK Marine Policy Statement, and the wider process of establishing national marine plans. In recent years he joined the steering panel for the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas, and has spearheaded and galvanised industry support for the development of marine net gain policy (MNG), chairing the OWEC funded task and finish group to identify strategic targets for MNG which have directly informed government MNG policy development.    

Peter has helped to shift the mindset of the marine development sector, from a ‘them and us’ adversarial approach to embracing the fact that in many cases marine industry can play a central role in helping to enable sustainable solutions that deliver not only for the economy but also for the wider environment.

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.

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