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27 November 2009

Have your say

A formal consultation on 12 proposed new ‘Natura 2000’ marine conservation sites starts today.
The proposed sites include areas of the Irish Sea such as Liverpool Bay that are important for birds, and would treble the area currently protected by Natura 2000 designation.
However, Natura 2000 sites are proposed and selected by a different process than marine conservation zones, although both are aimed at extending protection of the marine environment.
Natura 2000 sites result from EU Directives and are designed to protect important habitats, species and birds.
Marine conservation zones, on the other hand, are required by the UK government’s recently enacted Marine and Coastal Access Act. They will protect nationally important species, habitats, geology and geomorphology.
Another difference is that the people who use, enjoy or make their living from our seas will play the central role in recommending marine conservation zones to the government.
Even so, people can still comment on the proposed new Natura 2000 sites.
Natural England, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Countryside Council for Wales are asking consultees to comment in particular on the scientific reasons for proposing the sites.
They also welcome comments on the likely impacts of the site designation on marine industries such as fishing, recreation, sand and gravel extraction, wind farms and the oil and gas industry.
The 12 proposed new Natura 2000 sites consist of ten possible Special Areas of Conservation (pSACs) and two potential Special Protection Areas (pSPAs), which incorporate a range of important habitats and species.
These range from the sandbanks of the Outer Wash and southern North Sea to areas in the Irish Sea that are important for birds, and to the cold water coral reefs off north-west Scotland. 
Dr. Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “The Natura 2000 network of marine protected areas is a vital way of ensuring that our most important marine habitats and bird species are effectively protected. 
The consultation on the proposed new sites will create significant opportunities to promote understanding of our precious marine undersea landscapes, to share information to help refine the evidence for the proposed sites, and to work together with all users of the marine environment to develop future management measures.”
Marcus Yeo, managing director of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, said: “This consultation process gives us the chance to ensure that all relevant information has been considered in our recommendations.
“This will help these sites to be recognised as ones that fully deserve their high profile and consequent protection.”
UK fisheries minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “The sites to be consulted on have been identified to protect habitats and species of national and European importance.
“In conjunction with Marine Conservation Zones, established under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, these sites will contribute to delivering an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas.
“Feedback is important and will help shape our final proposals to the European Commission in 2010.”

Following this formal consultation process, site proposals will be submitted to the government, and ministers will decide which site recommendations to submit to the European Commission in August 2010.


a) All information on the English and joint sites, including proposed boundary maps, can be found on Natural England’s web site:

To comment formally on the proposals for the English and joint sites, write to:

Formal comments on the proposals for Liverpool Bay/Bae Lerpwl pSPA may also be sent in Welsh or English to the Countryside Council for Wales at: 

b)  All information on the two fully offshore sites (Bassurelle Sandbank and North-West Rockall Bank) can be found on JNCC’s web site:

To comment formally on the proposal for the two fully offshore sites, write to:
The consultation runs for three months from 27 November 2009 to 26 February 2010.