Managing the Estuary

Managing the Estuary

Managing the Estuary

Management of the Severn Estuary occurs in a number of different ways and is delivered by a number of different local authorities and other relevant organisations across the estuary. For example, marine and terrestrial planning processes ensure that sustainable development occurs across the estuary, particularly important whilst managing a cross-border site with many protected areas and designations. Some of the ways in which the estuary is managed can be found below!

Marine Planning

Marine planning contributes to the sustainable use of the seas around the UK through managing and balancing the wide range of activities occurring in our coastal and offshore waters. It aims to make the most of our marine space. Find out about the two Marine Plans relevant in the Severn Estuary below.

Maritime Pollution Incident Response

Pollutants like oil can occasionally be spilt into the sea, endangering all aspects of the marine environment and potentially human health too. This is called a Maritime Pollution Incident. The Marine Management Organisation in English waters and Natural Resources Wales in Welsh waters are responsible for managing and treating these events or spills. Environmental groups are set up to provide environmental advice to the Secretary of States’ Representative (SOSREP), in the case of a serious marine pollution incident. In the Severn Estuary, the Bristol Channel Standing Environment Group prepares for maritime pollution incidents where there is likely to be a threat of sea, land or air pollution and plans accordingly. The Severn Estuary Partnership acts as secretariat for this group. If you would like more information, please contact us at

Nature Conservation

Nature conservation is the management of natural resources (plants, animals and the environment) to ensure that they are protected both now and in the future. Nature conservation designations protect key resources in specific areas; generally having their own management, monitoring and reporting systems in place in order to ensure that deterioration does not occur. The Severn Estuary has numerous nature conservation designations to reflect its important habitats, species and geology. For example, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) and Special Protection Areas (SPA’s).

Planning and development

The planning system ensures that the right development happens in the right place at the right time, benefitting the community and the economy on the landward side of the estuary. It plays a critical role in identifying what development is needed and where, what areas need to be protected or enhanced and in assessing whether proposed development is suitable. It involves decisions about the future of our cities, towns and rural areas around the Severn Estuary.


Discover the many projects the Severn Estuary Partnership are involved with across the area.

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