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Developing an estuarine planning support system : a case study for the Humber Estuary, UK

Lonsdale, Jemma-Anne


Jemma-Anne Lonsdale


M. (Michael), 1952 November 3 Elliott


Estuaries are often challenging to manage, as management must strike a balance between the needs of the users and the ecological and economic values within the context of multiple legislative drivers. To help facilitate integrated management, a novel Estuarine Planning Support System (EPSS) framework, using the Humber Estuary in Eastern England as a case study, has been developed. This integrated EPSS framework goes beyond previous approaches as it brings together the legislative drivers, management tools and other mechanisms for controlling plans (formal/legal management, action or work plans (e.g. shoreline management plans) and projects (a new structure or activity such as extending a port). It thereby enables managers and users to assess and address both the current environmental state, and the way in which the new project could impact an estuary in an accessible and understandable tool. This study has been primarily completed by desk based research using peer reviewed literature, technical and research reports, marine licence applications and legislation, with correspondence to several sources to determine the baseline information and existing knowledge gaps. Further to the framework, an EPSS tool was developed to provide a practical application of these requirements. The GIS-based tool ensures that the information is accessible for regulators, managers, the scientific community, developers and the public. Whilst the tool is adaptable for regions within and outside the United Kingdom (UK), the research presented in this thesis focussed on the Humber Estuary. The successful application of the tool for a complex socio-economic and environmental system such as the Humber Estuary shows that the tool can efficiently guide users through the complex administrative requirements needed to implement a management plan, and therefore support sustainable development. In addition, the tool can be used as a scoping mechanism to identify potential stressors which are to be addressed in an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The tool was validated against four case studies and was also tested by a number of stakeholders to determine the utility and accuracy of the tool. The tool was subsequently updated to reflect feedback from the stakeholders. This project should be viewed as a ‘proof of concept’ in that its primary purpose is to demonstrate the potential for developing and operationalizing an approach in the field. The method has the potential to integrate highly technical knowledge from scientists, and the views of
non-scientists, to make better-informed management and planning decisions and to provide reasonable assurance to justify those decisions. The tool can be used to prevent conflicts among stakeholders and/or between uses and users and the environment, and makes it possible to integrate all the existing background data in thematic maps and identifies the human activities that use the areas, resources and services. The EPSS tool can save time and resources, aid in the decision-making process and make the decision process more transparent and consistent. It has the potential to make the governance of the marine area more logical, simple, fast and therefore more cost effective. The tool has been developed to be flexible in its approach, this means that it can be easily adapted to be used internationally and to allow for it to be adaptable to future changes. It combines the many aspects required for a holistic approach to marine management, from the inclusion of governance and stakeholder views, to the need for, and use of, monitoring information. In marine management, there will always be a need for robust and scientifically and legally defendable science to inform management. The increasingly large spatial scales that are addressed by policy makers, and the reduction in funding, means that new methods are needed to provide the evidence base which this tool helps to provide, and can be applied worldwide. The developed toolbox is an important step towards such an integrated, holistic ecosystem based approach for marine management, demonstrating that a single tool can bring together the legislative, environmental and economic considerations. The tool is a method to undertake the assessments that are currently being carried out by separate organisations, to combine in a single process that is consistent and transparent and on a quicker timescale helping to reduce costs.


Lonsdale, J. (2018). Developing an estuarine planning support system : a case study for the Humber Estuary, UK. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 23, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Biological sciences
Public URL
Additional Information School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date Jan 1, 2018


Thesis (12.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2018 Lonsdale, Jemma-Anne. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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