September 2014

Eunomia Report Finds ONS Data Can Inform Marine Plans

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The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has recently published a study prepared by Eunomia examining the potential for Office for National Statistics (ONS) data to be used to inform the process of developing and monitoring marine plans.

MMO has powers under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) to prepare marine plans covering the coastal waters of England. Marine plans guide those who use and regulate the marine area to encourage sustainable development while considering the environment, economy and society.

MMO commissioned and designed the report to examine how far the data requirements for marine plans can be met through ONS data. Social and economic data are needed to allow MMO to characterise the marine plan areas and produce indicators regarding the industries, communities and environment affected by marine planning. Data challenges are posed by the long term nature of the planning process, MMO’s focus on marine industries and the geography of the marine plan areas defined in legislation. MMO therefore requires data that is produced regularly, and which can be analysed in detail, both geographically and in terms of business and social sectors.

The study analysed data sets held by the ONS that could be used by MMO, and considered their relative suitability in meeting MMO’s requirements. Data accessed through the ONS Nomis portal, drawn from a number of business and social surveys was found to meet the criteria that would make it suitable for use in marine planning. Eunomia was also able to define a methodology for the production of a number of political and social metrics that were identified.

The report is published alongside the results of three other recently completed social and economic evidence projects studies. In a recent blog about the reports, MMO Evidence Specialist Aisling Lannin wrote, “Accessing appropriate ONS information is important for marine planning and now we can make more use of economic and social information gathered and analysed nationally.”

Eunomia Project Manager Peter Jones said, “We’re pleased to have been able to show how publicly available data is able to meet a number of MMO’s information needs. It’s vital that marine plans can be developed on a consistent, well-informed and affordable basis, and we hope that the methodology put forward in our report will contribute to the process.”