The Forthcoming Marine Bill and Other Matters
Marion Jakes – Lymington Society Committee Member for the Waterside
In these times of climate change, sea level rise, disappearing saltmarshes and erosion, not to mention other man-made damage to the river, we could sometimes have reason to believe that there are just far too many agencies with overlapping responsibilities – NFDC, National Park, Harbour Commissioners, Natural England, DEFRA, the Environment Agency, to name a few – and none apparently with enough individual power to reach joined-up decisions and deal effectively with the issues. Some of this may change soon when the Marine and Coastal Access Bill becomes final legislation later this year. The Bill covers a wide set of objectives including a new marine planning and licensing system under the proposed Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which will coordinate all marine matters throughout the UK. New Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) will be established to protect habitats and species increasing the level of protection to 22% of UK waters from the current 2.2%, and there will be increased powers to modernise fisheries management and enforce regulation policies. Last, but definitely not least, is the provision for the completion of a Coastal Access route round the entire UK coast, including privately owned land. This topic has been covered in the national press and is a delicate balance between providing for the interests of walkers to enjoy a “coastal experience” at first hand, and those of landowners who may be keen to preserve the privacy of their land and its stability from the extra pressures of walkers leading to further coastal erosion. Consultation on the Coastal Access issue is currently underway with a stated possible exemption for parks and gardens. Locally the draft North Solent Shoreline Management Plan is being finalised for consultation in the coming weeks and provisions are being made for recommendations on coastal defence policy for both publicly and privately owned land. These include ‘no active intervention’ and ‘hold the line’ designations. Our area of the north Solent is particularly sensitive due to the large extent of saltmarshes, river habitat and wide extent of private land ownership. We will be commenting on the consultation document so do let us know of any strong views you have to counteract suggestions for ‘no active intervention’ , currently thought to be areas eastwards from Elmers Court to Sowley.