Estuary planning is rapidly emerging as an important focus of environmental policy throughout much of the developed world. In Britain, for example, almost every major estuary is the subject of a management plan exercise involving the development of a strategic policy framework as the first step in establishing an estuary planning process. The impetus for such plans has often come from local bodies in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and has arisen from specific issues that require a strategic and coordinated response. This volume is concerned with the Mersey Estuary, the first highly developed estuary in Western Europe for which a management plan has been prepared. Estuaries of this kind present a particularly difficult challenge in planning terms, given their inherent complexity, the extremely wide range of issues to be confronted and the large number of organizations with a vested interest in river activities. Given that there were no "models" to follow, it has been necessary in the Mersey Plan to develop a completely new approach. This is reflected in the strategic policy framework that has been produced, which enables policies to be developed systematically having regard to their wide consequences. Individual policy areas have also required novel treatment: particular examples are the approaches adopted in developing policies for estuary dynamics, water quality and pollution, biodiversity, land use and development, commercial navigation and port development, urban regeneration, and tourism and recreation.