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Cowes Harbour
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Solent Marine Sites Management Scheme

In the UK, management schemes may be established at European marine sites as a key measure in meeting the requirements of the Habitats Directive. Each scheme is prepared by a group of authorities having statutory powers over the marine area - the Relevant Authorities.

In the Solent, the Solent Marine Sites (SEMS) Management Scheme (MS) was established in 2000; its aim is to conserve and enhance the designated habitats and species through appropriate management measures achieved by co-operation between the Solent's 31 relevant authorities. The MS focus is on managing non-licensable activities, development deemed to be 'plans and projects' is dealt with through existing statutory licensing and regulations. See the Solent Forum's Coastal Consents Guide for more details on regulations and licensing around the coast.

The Management Scheme comprises an annual Relevant Authority survey, a survey report report, an annual Management Report and an annual meeting of the Relevant Authorities. To see an overview of the management scheme process, with its annual timescale, please view the SEMS Management Scheme Framework. The meeting and reports are prepared by the SEMS Secretariat, hosted by the Solent Forum. Please see our publications page to view the reports.

The SEMS Annual Management Report summarises and assesses the survey responses (from both the online questionnaire and additional information). This report informs and help the SEMS Management Group at their annual meeting in September, where they discuss findings and determine what actions to take forward. Strategic Stakeholders, also have the opportunity to comment and input.

Competent Authority Duties

Competent authorities have a general duty to help protect, conserve and restore the protected habitats and species of European sites in areas under their jurisdiction. In order to clarify how this could apply to the SEMS Management Scheme, we have set out some examples below.

1. Reporting harmful activities to other authorities under whose jurisdiction they fall

2. General good practice to comply with the Habitats Regulations

3.  General good practice to not harm habitats or species

4. Actions that should be reported through SEMS Annual Survey

5. Completion of each authority’s undertakings regarding MS actions