www.bbc.co.uk 8th September 2011
Proposals have been put forward to turn over a quarter of the English and Welsh coasts into marine conservation zones. Currently only 1% of this coastline is protected but a 100 sites have been put forward as part of the 2009 UK Marine Bill. The sites range from ‘tiny stretches of coastline to large tracts of seafloor’ and include Chesil Beach in Dorset, Land’s End, the Donna Nook seal colony in Lincolnshire, and the Silver Pit off the Yorkshire coast. The proposed sites will now be assessed by an expert panel before being put forward to parliament, probably next year. A whole range of groups were consulted to draw up the plans including the mineral industry, scuba-diving groups, anglers, renewable energy companies and the Ministry of Defence. ‘The ultimate aim is to create an “ecologically coherent” network of protected areas around all UK coasts, safeguarding important natural habitats while allowing other activities such as recreational angling, commercial fishing, surfing and marine energy to go ahead.’ Scotland is due to create its own marine reserves but Northern Ireland has yet to announce similar plans.