Biodiversity & Conservation

Effects of specified marine and coastal activities or natural events.

The effect of any specific activity on a marine species or habitat is dependent on the environmental factors that change due to that activity. Therefore, the sensitivity of marine species or habitats is assessed with respect to changes in environmental factors.

However, coastal and environmental managers, within statutory agencies, local government, or industry, are concerned primarily with the management, control, or operation of activities. Therefore, a matrix is provided (below) to indicate those environmental factors that are likely to change due to specified maritime and coastal activities.

Marine and coastal activities

The following list of maritime and coastal activities and environmental factors is derived from the Marine Conservation Handbook (Eno, 1991) as amended by Cooke & McMath (2001) and discussion with the Marine Information Team (JNCC), and the MarLIN Biology & Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme technical advisory group. Wherever possible the list of activities and environmental factors is in agreement with the guidance provided on marine candidate SACs by English Nature, under regulation 33 of the ‘The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994’ (SI 1994/2716), and further guidance provided by Joint Nature Conservation Committee to OSPAR (the Oslo and Paris Convention for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic).

However, the following list of maritime and coastal activities should not be regarded as definitive. A comprehensive list would be too long to be practicable. Therefore, many of the activities listed represent classes or groups of activities. Each of the activities shown in the matrix and the types of activity that they are used to represent in Britain and Ireland are described below.

Linking activities and factors

The effect of any given activity on an environmental factor is dependant on the site or location of that activity. Similarly, the magnitude, duration, frequency and extent of the change in an environmental factor will be dependant on:

Therefore, the links in the following matrix represent the likelihood that environmental factors will change due to the construction, operation, or presence of the specified activity.

A link has been made in the matrix between a maritime activity and an environmental factor where:

Please note that the matrix does not address:

The construction phases of most coastal and offshore developments have been addressed under ‘Development’ as a separate activity.

In addition, a distinction has been made between ‘probable’ and ‘possible’ links. A link is regarded as ‘probable’ where the activity was known (or had been shown) to change the relevant environmental factor in most instances. A link is regarded as ‘possible’ where an activity was likely to change the relevant environmental factor in some cases or in particular locations or situations.

For example it is highly ‘probable’ that:

Similarly, it is ‘possible’ that:

The matrix identifies the probable effects of maritime activities in most cases. However, all eventualities can not be considered in a study of this kind, and the matrix should be interpreted as generic guidance and should not be considered comprehensive. A detailed study of the magnitude or significance of the environmental effects on an activity (or project proposal) is site dependant and the province of an environmental impact assessment.


The matrix linking maritime activities and environmental factors:

View the 'marine and coastal activities to environmental factors' matrix

View the matrix

View the matrix terms and definitions