Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Marine and Coastal Access Bill published

Marine and Coastal Access Bill published

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (381/08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 5 December 2008

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn today welcomed publication of pioneering legislation for better protection and development of the seas around Britain.

The Marine and Coastal Access Bill, published today, includes:

* a new network of marine conservation zones;
* the establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation which will be a centre of marine expertise;
* a new marine planning system which will enable a more strategic approach to be taken to the use of our seas;
* a simpler more streamlined marine licensing system;
* better management of fisheries; and
* a new right of access for people to walk round the English coast for the first time.

The marine conservation zones will protect species and habitats of national importance, and the Bill will allow local laws to be put in place to protect the zones from some types of human activity, such as jet skiing or other activities which may cause damage.

The Government has agreed a UK-wide approach to marine planning with the Devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with more functions devolved to Scottish and Welsh ministers.

Hilary Benn said:

"This is a significant day for our seas and the wonders that lie beneath them.

"The effects of climate change and the increasing use of the sea by many competing interests mean we must look after our marine areas for future generations.

"This new system of protection and management of our seas will help to halt the decline in biodiversity and to create clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. And all of us will be able to walk along more of the length of the coast and get close to the sea right around England.

"I am delighted that this groundbreaking legislation will go forward with the full support of colleagues in the Devolved Administrations. This will ensure a consistent approach across the UK."

The Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 15 December.

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