The plans enact a requirement of the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act and will now go forward to an independent panel for review. Formed from 4 regional projects, the ultimate aim is to create an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas which will safeguard scarce species and those species representative of biodiversity in England. The final network will cover 37,000 sq km, nearly a quarter of England’s waters.
The Marine Protected Area Science Advisory Panel will examine the proposals in October this year and The Government will make the final decision on the location of sites in 2012.
What does this mean for developers?
It has been reported by The Guardian that although no decision has yet been made about the activities that will be allowed or prohibited within each site, it is likely that only 20 sites will receive a high degree of protections, meaning that all extractive or damaging activities will be prohibited. The article also suggests that half the sites will include highly protected areas within them.