Draft Marine Bill
Jon Davies

Draft Marine Bill

 

In April 2008, the UK Government published the draft Marine Bill for public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny. The draft Bill sets out a series of wide-ranging proposals that aim to implement a sustainable approach to the management of human activities and deliver environmental protection. Overall, the proposals have been positively received by the conservation agencies and environmental NGOs, since the Bill offers a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to gain effective marine environmental protection. At the core of the draft Bill is a proposal to implement a new marine planning and licensing system driven by a Marine Policy Statement agreed across Government. For nature conservation, the draft Bill makes provision for the designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to protect habitats, species and geological features. In a supporting policy paper, the Government states its aim to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012 to meet our international obligations. The Bill does not cover all the UK’s seas as the territorial waters of Scotland and Northern Ireland are excluded; the devolved administrations are bringing forward their own proposals for their marine waters.

 

JNCC staff supported Defra in their production of guidance for the delivery of the measures outlined in the Bill. Whilst we support the overall Marine Bill, there are aspects that JNCC and the country conservation bodies have sought to amend to ensure the best outcome for biodiversity protection.

 

JNCC provided evidence to the Joint Parliamentary Committee that is scrutinising the proposals. JNCC also submitted comments to Defra during the public consultation. Our particular concerns relate to the designation of MCZs: we felt the Bill should confer a duty on an organisation to designate sites, and there should be provision to control unlicensed activities beyond 12 nautical miles.

 

In May 2008, JNCC and Natural England were provided with additional funds by Defra to take forward a project to identify a suite of MCZs by 2012. Sites will be identified through regional projects with the full engagement of stakeholders to ensure all proposals have wide public support.

 

Jon Davies

Marine Protected Sites Manager

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866835

Email: 

 
Please cite as: Jon Davies, Draft Marine Bill