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Defra Marine Bill, Spring 2006

Defra Marine Bill, Spring 2006

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Published by: CoastNet on Jan 05, 2009
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The Marine Bill – a view from Defra

With the anticipation and lobbying that is following the Government’s upcoming Marine Bill around, you might be forgiven for thinking it has become something of a holy grail among coastal and marine professionals. But how does Defra see this Bill and where is it going? Dave Bench, Head of Marine Legislation at Defra gives a round up of the Bill’s aims and progress.


ur coastline and seas play a significant role in UK industry. Shipping, fishing, and wind farming for example, operate alongside a huge leisure industry, in an important but vulnerable natural environment. Despite the sea’s importance, we do not fully co-ordinate how we manage our demands on it. The Marine Bill will create a framework that helps us to manage our activities to reduce adverse impact on each other and on the marine environment. This framework will need to accommodate changing demands and priorities that could result from climate change, changes in technology, or new human activities. Designing a flexible system is an enormous challenge for Government. A few years ago we would not have predicted the extent of wind farm development. In future we may need to find space for wave and tidal power, and other technologies yet to be developed. We want the Marine Bill to make a real difference and be flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. The detailed proposals for the Bill are still being determined, but the main themes are clear.

The Bill will have sustainable development at its heart and our main goal is to create a new system for marine planning which reconciles competing demands, increases certainty for developers, and helps us protect the marine environment. Different industries operating in UK waters are controlled under different regimes. We are looking at ways to rationalise the way Government operates these licensing systems. A new planning system and streamlined licensing arrangements should improve the speed, accountability and transparency of development decisions, while ensuring sustainable development and protection of our valuable marine environment.

A new marine organisation?
We are also considering whether a new Marine Management Organisation is needed. It could provide the focus for delivering the new functions provided by the Marine Bill and it might take on complementary roles already undertaken by Government.

Progress and involvement
There will be considerable opportunity to join the debate and contribute views whatever your interest in our coasts and seas. A consultation exercise was launched on 29 March 2006 and there will be some Marine Bill Forums in May (see www.defra.gov.uk for details). There will be further consultations later when more detailed proposals are published.

Marine Protected Areas and fisheries provision
We may widen the scope of nature conservation laws and we are considering arrangements for marine protected areas. We want legislation that enables us to protect marine species and habitats when and where it is necessary. The Bill will also implement new arrangements to allow better management of inshore fisheries.

Dave Bench is Head of Marine Legislation Division at Defra Email: marinelegislationdivision@defra.gsi.gov.uk Web: www.defra.gov.uk

6 The edge Spring 2006

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