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Marine Bill White Paper due tomorrow

14 March 2007

The Marine Bill White Paper, due to be launched tomorrow by David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, heralds a shake up of the UK’s maritime affairs, according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

Oil, gas, marine renewables, CO2 storage, inshore fisheries and shipping will all be spatially allocated under proposals for the first ever marine planning system for our seas set out in the White Paper. This will enable environmental issues as well as industrial activities to be considered strategically at the planning stage, which should increase certainty for all.

‘We are pleased that we are one step closer to a Marine Bill for our oft neglected seas,’ said Melissa Moore, MCS Senior Policy Officer. ‘The Cabinet now needs to show its environmental agenda extends to our seas and allocate a slot for the marine bill in the next parliamentary session’.

The Cabinet are presently considering which bills should have priority in the next Queen’s Speech and MCS hope they will keep to their manifesto commitment and provide time in the next parliamentary session for a marine bill. It was omitted from the last Queen’s speech to the ire of MPs and environmental groups.

Most importantly for conservationists, the Marine Bill White paper will detail plans for a representative network of nationally important Marine Protected Areas which should include Highly Protected Marine Reserves, areas of the sea where all damaging or potentially damaging activities are excluded.

At present the UK falls far behind international action on this issue with only one tiny area (at Lundy Island - covering 0.002% of our inshore waters) fully protected.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the White Paper will detail much needed reform of inshore fisheries in England, some of which has changed very little since being established over 100 years ago.

Posted by: Helen

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14 March 2007  Marine Bill White Paper due tomorrow

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