Four years, endless meetings - no change

Proposals on marine conservation zones do not include any sites in North Devon.

NEW proposals for marine conservation zones will make absolutely no difference to North Devon, it has been revealed.

On Thursday Defra launched a long-awaited consultation on plans to create the zones to protect the marine environment in the UK, but named only 31 of the 127 sites recommended, following a process estimated to have cost �8.8million.

In Devon, this is just four of 14 sites suggested following years of lengthy consultation with coastal users and experts.

In North Devon, no new sites have been chosen. The only one in this area proposed as an MCZ is the existing ‘no take zone’ around Lundy Island.

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Devon Wildlife Trust has condemned the news and said it was ‘bitterly disappointed by the lack of ambition shown in this consultation’.

It claimed there were huge gaps in the government’s proposals for the first round of designation, although Defra has said more sites would be subject to further review.

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The Taw and Torridge Estuary, the north of Lundy, Morte platform off Morte point, Bideford to Hartland and Hartland to Tintagel had all been recommended for MCZ status.

This followed years of meetings and consultation with fishermen, wildlife groups and all manner of coastal users conducted by Finding Sanctuary, set up to build a detailed picture of the coastline and how it was used.

“Failure to designate all but a very small proportion of sites recommended will mean we lack the ecologically coherent network that our seas so badly need to recover,” said Richard White, marine advocacy officer for Devon Wildlife Trust.

“Marine conservation zones should protect the species and habitats found within them from the most damaging and degrading of activities whilst mostly allowing sustainable activity to continue. “The network was designed to ensure we don’t end up with isolated and vulnerable sites and that the range of marine habitats in UK seas are protected.”

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