Natural England
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Turning the tide

Natural England hails Marine and Coastal Access Act as once in lifetime opportunity for marine conservation.

Following yesterday’s Royal Assent for the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, Natural England heralded the legislation as a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance and protect the marine environment.

Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “The Marine and Coastal Access Act will be enormously important for our marine environment, which urgently needs greater protection from the overexploitation and damage that has been inflicted upon it. At last we have a mechanism for safeguarding threatened marine ecosystems and for managing the multiple uses of our seas. By any definition, this is a watershed moment for marine conservation.”

Helen Phillips continued: “Marine Conservation Zones are urgently needed in order to protect England’s most important marine wildlife and undersea landscapes. They need to be sufficiently large, diverse and interconnected to address ecological needs, but they also need to function effectively alongside other uses of the marine environment. This has to be a collaborative process and we want everyone who uses the sea to be involved from the outset in developing recommendations on where the new conservation zones should be located.”

To this end, there is now a pioneering ‘Marine Conservation Zone Project’, spearheaded by four independent regional stakeholder groups who will have a key role in determining the boundaries of the new Marine Conservation Zones using a unique ‘bottom up’ process. No other country in the world has attempted to involve people at this sort of scale in developing plans for marine protected areas.

Helen Phillips concluded: “The new Act is an enormously positive step forward and represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver a sustainable future for our marine environment and the many human activities that depend upon it.”

Notes to Editors:

1. For more information about Natural England, requests for interviews and photographs, please contact: Michelle Hawkins, Press Officer, 0300 060 1109 / michelle.hawkins@naturalengland.org.uk Or the Press Office on 0845 603 9953, press@naturalengland.org.uk / out of hours 07970 098005.

2. The Marine Conservation Zone Project has been established by Defra, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to Government. The Marine Conservation Zone Project will be delivered through four regional MCZ projects - covering the south-west (Finding Sanctuary), Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), North Sea (Net Gain) and south-east (Balanced Seas). These regional MCZ projects will work with sea users and interest groups to identify MCZs and provide recommendations for sites within their regions to Government.

3. Natural England is the statutory nature conservation adviser for Government for England (including territorial waters) and is committed to delivering an ecologically coherent and representative network of MPAs. It will commit time from its own specialist staff and research products to support the project as well as providing funding www.naturalengland.org.uk

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation, on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems. JNCC is also the statutory conservation adviser to Government for UK offshore waters (i.e. beyond 12 nautical miles). www.jncc.gov.uk

4. For more details about the four regional Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) projects, please contact:

a) Balanced Seas – south east Regional MCZ Project
Sally Moore, Communications Coordinator, Balanced Seas, Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE), Room Marlowe 65A Marlowe Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR Email: S.Moore@kent.ac.uk Tel: 01227 827 839 www.balancedseas.org

b) Finding Sanctuary – south west Regional MCZ Project
Joana Smith, Communications Coordinator, Finding Sanctuary, Darts Farm, Topsham, Exeter EX3 OQH Email: Joana.Smith@southwestfoodanddrink.com Tel: 01392 878 328 www.finding-sanctuary.org

c) Irish Seas Conservation Zones - north west Regional MCZ Project
Matthew Sutcliffe, Communications Coordinator, Irish Seas Conservation Zones, c/o Envirolink Northwest, Spencer House, 91 Dewhurst Road, Birchwood, Warrington, WA3 7PG Email: m.sutcliffe@irishseaconservation.org.uk Tel: 01925 8130 200 www.irishseaconservation.org.uk

d) Net Gain – north east Regional MCZ Project
Dani Sewell, PR and Communications Manager, Net Gain, The Deep Business Centre, Hull HU1 4BG Email: dani@yhsg.co.uk Tel: 01482 216 222 www.netgainmcz.org

5. About Natural England

Natural England is the government’s independent advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  • We establish and care for England’s main wildlife sites, ensuring that over 3,500 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.

  • We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Marine Conservation Zones, and advising widely on their conservation.

  • We run England’s Environmental Stewardship green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.

  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats. We have recently committed £6m to develop wetland areas and have detailed biodiversity action plans covering 75% of England’s species

  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

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