Marine Bill consultation begins

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:06 10 June 2010

THE consultation into the draft Marine Bill has begun and Devon has spoken out about its concerns over how best to protect the sea and marine environment.

THE consultation into the draft Marine Bill has begun and Devon has spoken out about its concerns over how best to protect the sea and marine environment.

The draft Marine Bill is a first for the UK and aims to provide greater protection for the coast and to create a more diverse marine environment.

The draft Bill recommends a number of measures to balance conservation, energy and resource needs by designating marine conservation zones to protect habitats and species - and strengthening the management of marine fisheries.

Devon county councillor Humphrey Temperley was called on to speak on behalf of the Local Government Association and the county council before the Government select committee - which included his wife Baroness Miller.

The Devon County Council executive member for strategic planning and regional affairs and chairman of the North Devon and Somerset coastal group said good practice in the Exe Estuary and Tamar Estuary plan should be encouraged.

He added conservation measures off Lundy can serve as an example for UK policy.

Cllr Temperley said: "Much of the bill we're supportive of, and we're very supportive of the integrated approach but we do have misgivings. We're concerned that the land and sea boundary issues are not properly recognised in the bill and there are not sufficient guarantees in the bill to ensure consistency and compatibility between spatial planning between the land and sea environment.

"At the moment we know where a lot of fish breed but we are not able to protect them. The success of the Lundy no-take zone is pretty well acknowledged and it's important that marine conservation zones can be designated quickly."

The bill also puts forward the case for the creation of an independent public body - the Marine Management Organisation - to oversee the new arrangements.

Councillor Temperley made a bid for its headquarters to be based in the region to make the most of the expertise at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Plymouth.

The select committee should report on the draft bill to both Houses of Parliament by July 22.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council executive member for environment, said: "I'm grateful to Councillor Temperley for putting forward the view of Devon County Council and the LGA.

"It's vital that local government is heard and plays a leading role in the Marine Bill.

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