1. About the Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP)

Our seas are an incredible natural asset and an intrinsic part of our history, economy and way of life. The WNMP was adopted in November 2019. It sets out a long-term vision for the sustainable development of our seas.  

The Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA) provides a statutory basis for the plan-led regime to manage coastal waters in the United Kingdom.  All four UK administrations of the UK Marine Policy Statement (MPS) adopted the marine planning regime in March 2011. The MPS provides high-level policy context for developing Marine Plans:

  • it sets out a framework for:
    • preparing Marine Plans
    • taking decisions affecting the marine environment
  • it contains the shared UK vision of having ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’
  • it will ensure appropriate consistency in marine planning across the UK marine area

2. The Marine Plan area

The marine plan area around Wales is 32,000 km2 of sea, with 2,120 km of coastline. The management of activities in Welsh waters is split between:

  • devolved functions (with Welsh Ministers as the marine plan authority), and
  • retained functions (with the UK Government as authority)

Welsh National Marine Plan Area map




















Relevant documents

Marine and Costal Access Act 2009 - Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (legislation.gov.uk)

Marine Policy Statement - UK marine policy statement - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Welsh National Marine Plan https://www.gov.wales/welsh-national-marine-plan

Welsh National Marine Plan: overview Welsh National Marine Plan: overview | GOV.WALES

Animation explaining the marine planning process Marine Planning in Wales - YouTube

Overview of Maring Planning in Wales webinar 1. Overview of Marine Planning in Wales and the Welsh National Marine Plan - YouTube

3. WNMP vision, objectives and general policies

Our vision for the Welsh inshore and offshore marine plan area is:

Welsh seas are clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse:

  • through an ecosystem approach. Natural resources are sustainably managed. Our seas are healthy and resilient, supporting a sustainable and thriving economy
  • through 
    • access to
    • understanding of, and
    • enjoyment of the marine environment and maritime cultural heritage,

health and well-being are improving;

  • through Blue Growth more jobs and wealth are being created. This is helping coastal communities become more 
    • resilient
    • prosperous, and
    • equitable

 with a vibrant culture

  • through the responsible deployment of low carbon technologies. The Welsh marine area is making a strong contribution to: 
    • energy
    • security, and
    • climate change emissions targets

The vision will be delivered through the Plan’s 13 objectives.

You can find the Welsh National Marine Plan: vision, objectives and policies (quick reference) (on gov.wales).

4. General cross-cutting plan policies

The WNMP includes 25 general policies and sector policies that must be taken into account in all relevant decisions. The general goals support the sustainable development of the Welsh marine area. They contribute to the seven wellbeing goals set out in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. General polices cover many areas, including:

  • sustainable economic growth
  • co-existence
  • access
  • Welsh language
  • flooding
  • resilience
  • marine litter
  • water quality 

More detail on the 25 general policies is available. Go to Welsh National Marine Plan: vision, objectives and policies (quick reference) (on gov.wales).


5. Sector policies

More detail on the sector policies is available here.

Sector policies are set out for the diverse types of activity that occur in our seas

Most sectors have:

  • supporting policies to encourage sustainable growth:
    • via general support, or
    • within areas with good potential for future activities
  • safeguarding policies (SAF) to help ensure that each sector:
    • considers each other’s needs
    • does not compromise areas of importance and encourages co-existence

SAF-01a are policies that are authorisation based.

SAF-01b are activity-based policies.

More detail on each sector in included in each of the sections.

Overview of the Welsh National Marine Plan content - YouTube

Technical content of the Welsh National Marine Plan - YouTube

6. Implementing the Marine Plan

Roles and responsibilities

Welsh Ministers are the marine plan authority. They are responsible for setting policy and preparing marine plans in Wales. Their role includes:

  • producing marine plans and keeping them under review
  • overseeing marine plan implementation
  • monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness of marine planning

Developers are responsible for ensuring their proposals are compliant with this plan. Their role includes:

  • early engagement with relevant stakeholders
  • considering the plan early in project development
  • applying plan policies to shape proposals
  • supplying information needed for the relevant public authority to assess proposals
  • gathering and sharing evidence where appropriate

Public authorities are responsible for assessing whether proposals are compliant with the plan. Their role includes:

  • encouraging early engagement between stakeholders
  • making authorisation or enforcement decisions which are compliant with the plan, or
  • stating reasons if any decision is not compliant with the plan
  • looking favourably on proposals that contribute to the plan’s vision and objectives
  • making available relevant evidence and guidance to support plan implementation

7. Resources available to help implement the plan

We have produced lots of resources to support plan implementation. These can help developers and public authorities assess whether proposals are in accordance with the WNMP.

8. Implementation guidance

We have developed implementation guidance. This should be read alongside the WNMP. It provides further detail on WNMP policies to help ensure they are implemented:

  • effectively, and
  • consistently

Welsh National Marine Plan: implementation guidance | GOV.WALES

How to apply the Welsh National Marine Plan - YouTube

9. Wales Marine Planning Portal

The marine planning portal for Wales allows anyone to view maps online. They show the distribution of human activities and natural resources in Welsh seas. The portal is an interactive planning tool. It is intended to support the marine planning process by:

  • raising awareness and understanding of the marine data that is available
  • providing an understanding of the marine planning evidence base currently available
  • allowing interested parties to comment on: 
    • the evidence base, and
    • and other spatial evidence needs

As the evidence base develops, we will:

  • add new layers, and
  • refresh existing data layers 

Wales Marine Planning Portal information video (on YouTube)

Wales Marine Planning Portal (on gov.wales)

10. Marine and terrestrial planning

The following resources tell you:

  • when, and
  • how

you should consider the WNMP in terrestrial planning.

Marine and terrestrial planning: infographic (on gov.wales)

Considering marine plans in terrestrial planning permission: infographic (on gov.wales)

11. Technical statements

Marine Planning Technical Statements have been developed for the sectors below. The purpose of these documents is to

  • enable marine plan users to understand areas of importance to activity in specific sectors
  • provide guidance on implementing Welsh National Marine Plan safeguarding policy for those sectors

Marine planning technical statement: safeguarding policy for recreational boating (on gov.wales)



12. Sector locational guidance

We have developed Sector locational guidance for tidal stream energy, wave energy and aquaculture. The reports provide evidence, analysis and spatial data relating to developments for these sectors.  Spatial data is available through the Wales Planning Portal.

Sector locational guidance: tidal stream energy (on gov.wales)

Sector locational guidance: wave energy (on gov.wales)

Sector locational guidance: aquaculture (on gov.wales)