Natural England - Public consultation starts on Marine Conservation Zones

Public consultation starts on Marine Conservation Zones

13 December 2012

Decisions about the designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) moved a step closer today after Defra announced the start of its public consultation. The Defra led consultation covers recommendations for MCZs that have been put forward by sea users working together through four regional MCZ projects.

Pink sea-fan large
Pink sea-fan © Paul Kay

The consultationexternal link includes proposals that sites should be designated in “tranches” - the list of sites will include an indication as to which are proposed for designation in the first tranche, which are candidates for designation in future tranches, and those that will not be pursued. Having examined all the necessary evidence and advice Defra are proposing that 31 sites are designated in the first tranche.

Defra carefully considered the advice from Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee that the reference areas recommended by the regional MCZ projects did not meet the requirements of the agreed Ecological Network Guidanceexternal link and the recommendation that they be re-evaluated. Defra has decided not to include reference areas in the first set of sites, and will consider further before making a final decision about them.

How can I take part?

Defra is encouraging everyone with an interest in the marine environment to respond to the consultation and individuals, groups and organisations wishing to take part have until 31 March 2013 to submit new evidence, review comment and feedback on the proposals before they are finalised.

Next steps

The Government remains committed to creating a well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas which will include MCZs. The evidence received from the public consultation, along with any other evidence that has been collected since Natural England and Joint Nature Conservation Committee submitted their advice packageexternal link in July 2012, will be evaluated and taken into consideration before Ministers make their final decisions on which sites to designate in 2013.

Where can I find out more?

Find out more about the consultation on the Defra websiteexternal link 

If you have questions please contact:  mcz@defra.gsi.gov.uk

For information about the marine habitats and species recommended for protection by MCZs visit the Natural England websiteexternal link.

The MCZ interactive mapexternal link has been updated to display all of the recommended MCZs (rMCZ) proposed by the regional MCZ projects in the context of other MPAs such as Special Areas of Conservation. The map shows the sites and features that are proposed for designation in 2013, and has an easy ‘right click’ function which allows you to access all relevant information and documents for each of the rMCZs.