Severn Estuary Forum Event

SIMCelt presented at the Severn Estuary Forum in Bridgwater in October to share lessons learned from our project so far. The Severn Estuary Partnership was set up in 1995, and is an independent, estuary-wide non-statutory initiative led by local authorities and statutory agencies. They work actively with all those involved in the management of the estuary, from planners to port authorities, fishermen to farmers and many more with an interest in the future of the estuary.

It is a busy time for the Severn Estuary with large-scale infrastructure projects including the current construction of Hinkley Point C and the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. The scale of these projects means they have the potential to affect the whole estuary and the people who live and work in the area, both directly or indirectly. Speakers at the Forum alluded to these projects, and also the many fantastic community and nature based initiatives set up around the Severn area.

The Solway and the Severn are both estuaries existing across a national border and thus experience particular transboundary issues as they are managed by different marine planning authorities. The Solway has the Scottish Government’s Scottish National Marine Plan, in place since 2015, covering the northern side whilst the MMO is developing the Inshore and Offshore Plans that will cover the southern side. On the Severn the Welsh Government has just released the consultation draft of the Welsh National Marine Plan while on the English side, the MMO is in the process of collating evidence about issues which will inform the south west inshore and offshore marine plan areas. Knowledge gained through the SIMCelt case study ‘Planning Across Borders’ in the Solway Firth is likely to be of interest to the SEP and the Partnership is also interested in the work involving stakeholders with the MSP process on the Firth of Clyde.

The Solway Firth Partnership hosted the SIMCelt Solway Project Officer, who was sub-contracted to deliver case study 3 ‘Planning Across Borders’ (see earlier blog post). Part of the case study has made use of a previous piece of work, carried out by the SFP in 2010/11, which captured the perceived interactions between different activities across the estuary. The SIMCelt work has involved updating some of the elements of the original project and it has been a useful exercise in local stakeholder engagement.

Marine Scotland, in association with the Scottish Coastal Forum, is leading SIMCelt’s work on Stakeholder Engagement, exploring novel tools and mechanisms to support effective trans-boundary co-operation and stakeholder buy-in.  They are working with colleagues in the Netherlands to develop the MSP Challenge gaming approach to better explain the concept and process of marine planning to a range of stakeholders.