Conservation funds ‘inadequate’

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Funding for measures included in a draft Bill to improve the management and conservation of the UK’s seas appears to be “inadequate”, a joint committee report has warned.

The committee set up to scrutinise the draft Marine Bill also said it was concerned at “how few obligations” the proposed legislation actually imposes on the Government.

Ministers published the draft Bill in April laying out plans for a network of marine reserves, a new UK-wide planning system to help manage Britain’s seas and measures to allow people the freedom to walk all round the English coast for the first time.

A new Marine Management Organisation would also be created to regulate development and activity at sea and enforce environmental protection laws, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said at the time.

But a report from the Joint Committee warned Defra it must ensure sufficient funding for measures including the Marine Management Organisation, inshore fisheries conservation and the development of the coastal path for them to be established successfully.

The committee’s report said the plans for a continuous coastal route around England were “laudable”, but repeated calls made by the Efra select committee last week for an independent appeals process for landowners unhappy with the plans.

Lord Greenway, the committee’s chairman, said: “We have welcomed the Bill but expressed our concern at how few obligations the Bill actually imposes on the Government.

“We would like the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to make sure the published Bill commits the Secretary of State and other appropriate action, rather than just enabling change.”

Source: walesonline.co.uk