Thames Concordat

The Concordat covers from the PLA’s seaward limits in the Outer Thames Estuary to its landward limits at Teddington Lock The Concordat covers from the PLA’s seaward limits in the Outer Thames Estuary to its landward limits at Teddington Lock (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Port of London Authority (PLA) have agreed what they are calling ‘a streamlined approach to regulating development in the River Thames’.

The ‘Thames Concordat’ is a new set of principles both organisations will follow in cases where both the MMO and PLA have a regulatory remit. It aims to limit duplication for businesses seeking to carry out development in the Thames.

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA) the MMO regulates activities in the marine area. This includes the tidal area of rivers such as the Thames. The PLA has a statutory responsibility for navigation, hydrodynamics, promoting the use of the river and for licensing works and dredging.

The Concordat applies to areas where there is duplication between the MMO’s and the PLA’s statutory responsibilities. It covers from the PLA’s seaward limits in the Outer Thames Estuary to its landward limits at Teddington Lock (the Tidal Thames) and tidal tributaries.

Staff from the MMO and PLA will follow five key principles when considering applications for development in the Thames where both organisations have a regulatory remit:

1.            provide a single point of entry into the regulatory system for seeking consent for development

2.            establish a single lead authority for coordinating the requirements of Environmental Impact Assessment Directive or Habitats Regulations Assessments

3.            act on available opportunities for coordinating, dispensing or deferring regulatory responsibilities

4.            communicate the likely evidence requirements of all authorities as early as possible in the consent process

5.            coordinate the advice provided to applicants across their respective organisations

The agreement continues the closer working between the two organisations with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs considering delegating powers under the MCAA from the MMO to the PLA.

Shaun Nicholson, head of marine licensing at the Marine Management Organisation, said: “Since the MMO vested in 2010 we’ve continued to develop the marine licensing process which has resulted in a quicker turnaround and improved experience for applicants. This agreement is a blueprint for setting out the more streamlined way in which we want to work in regulating activities in the Thames in future.”

Jim Trimmer, PLA director of planning and environment said: “We are pleased to introduce the Thames Concordat, which marks a step forward in developing more efficient regulation on the River Thames. We look forward to further efficiency improvement through the Thames Tideway Tunnel project and ultimately the delegation of marine licensing powers to the PLA.”

The Thames agreement is a tailored version of the ‘Coastal Concordat’ which was launched by Defra in Autumn 2013. Through the Coastal Concordat the MMO other regulators are improving co-ordination on coastal developments. The Concordat aims to enable sustainable growth in the coastal zone and reduce cost and delay for businesses.

By Jake Frith

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