New marine conservation bill could conflict with Government’s development policies

The new Marine Wildlife Conservation Bill could result in an unstructured approach to improvements in coastal discharges due to the number of current regulations designed to protect the coastal environment, says a water industry body. The Bill could also conflict with the Governments development policies, particularly in the South East of England, according to the body, which calls for “clarity of vision”.

The Bill, which is currently before a parliamentary committee, is designed to protect marine sites of special interest, identified by their flora, fauna, geological or physiographic features.

In response to the Bill, however, Water UK – the body that represents the water and wastewater operators in the UK, has stated that “… it is noted that a significant number of the sites are in the South East where the Government is seeking to encourage growth under other policies”. “Without more detailed studies there is a risk that there could be a conflict between the Government’s environmental and development policies,” says Water UK.

“The Government will be aware that as a result of the Agency’s recently introduced shellfish policy and possible revisions to the Bathing Water Directive there will be a need to look againat coastal discharges in general,” says Water UK. “The industry is concerned there is a risk of an unstructured approach to improvements to coastal discharges developing.”

The organisation is concerned that the need for improved co-ordination of existing marine environmental policy does not appear to be consistent with the private member’s bill which appears to be designed to plug a gap in the coverage of marine areas protected for nature conservation reasons. In the light of this, Water UK states that the present proposals in the private member’s bill are “premature and suggests that the current proposals should be deferred, allowing time for more detailed consideration and integration into other policies”.

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