The whence and whither of marine spatial planning: revisiting the social reconstruction of the marine environment in the UK
With the concept of marine spatial planning (MSP) firmly established in the UK with its own legislation, policies and plans underway, this paper critically revisits MSP as part of the wider debate associated with the social reconstruction of the marine environment, as first discussed by Peel and Lloyd’s seminal paper in 2004. We propose that their identified ‘marine problem’ remains and indeed has exacerbated. We ascertain that there has been much change in the governance of the marine environment that has both positively and negatively altered the way that society has (re)constructed solutions to that marine problem. We revisit Hannigan’s (1995) social constructionist framework, showing the degree to which the prerequisites have been satisfied, by providing an overview of how the marine problem has intensified in the preceding 15 years and how the marine problem has now captured the wider public’s attention. We then look at the how the response to the marine problem has evolved by examining at the current marine planning arrangements across the UK. We conclude by stating that the whence of MSP is clear, culminating with the formal introduction of MSP in the UK which has positively altered the way in which the marine environment is socially reconstructed. The whither is much more unclear. With a continually rapidly moving agenda of change, there is much more to be done for us to say that the marine problem has been successfully socially reconstructed.