Report on Consultations about a Workshop to review the effectiveness of statutory regimes for Marine Nature Conservation
(2000)
Report to European Wildlife Division Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and Review of Marine Nature Conservation Working Group

Summary

 
1.1 The workshop and this report were commissioned on behalf of the Secretary of State by the European Wildlife Division of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). The objective is to report on consultations carried out, with a wide range of interested bodies, about the outcomes of a workshop held to obtain expert views as to the effectiveness of statutory regimes for marine nature conservation.
 
1.2 The workshop was held on 7th November 2000. It was hosted by the DETR but independently facilitated and led by David Tyldesley and Associates (DTA), environmental planning consultants with the assistance of Browne Jacobson, Solicitors. The Workshop was attended by 29 people, 23 of whom represented 19 bodies with regulatory or statutory advisory functions in the marine environment. DTA drafted a report of the Workshop discussions, identified a series of 78 comments, points or suggestions and consulted 26 interested bodies as to whether they agreed or disagreed with each of the them. This report summarises the responses from the nine bodies which replied.
 
1.3 The workshop report was structured around the five basic types of statutory regimes which potentially may affect or deliver marine nature conservation. These are:
 
a] Specific Measures for Nature Conservation;
b] Control of Plans and Projects;
c] Duties to Have Regard to Nature Conservation;
d] Discretionary Powers to Help Nature Conservation; and
e] Protection of Natural Resources.
 

Section 11 summarised the discussions in respect of opportunities and solutions.

 

For consistency, this report analyses the consultees = agreement or disagreement under the same headings.
 
1.4 All but the conservation bodies considered that the specific provisions for management of European Marine Sites have generally been effective. There was general agreement that European Marine Sites Management Schemes had some strengths and could be adapted and extended elsewhere.
 
There was general agreement that SSSIs are likely to be more effective with new legislation and could be used more below mean low water. All but one respondent disagreed that SSSI have been ineffective and will not work well in the marine environment.
 
The conservation bodies disagreed but all others agreed that MNRs are a failed initiative.
 
All agreed that species protection legislation is not effective.

 
1.5 All but one respondent disagreed that the Habitats Regulations are a very effective control in relation to European Marine Sites. However, all respondents agreed that although there were problems of interpretation in the regulations, their precautionary approach could be more widely adopted in marine environmental controls.
 
There is a very high level of agreement that FEPA controls work well and that EIA is a good provision for nature conservation and the marine environment generally, although it can lack clarity and rigour.
 
All agreed that weaknesses in the regimes include the multiplicity of controls and consenting regimes, the lack of a lead or coordinating regulator and overlapping jurisdictions, but the conservation bodies disagreed that the number of regulators was a weakness.
 
All agreed there can be unnecessary duplication, that there is a lack of an overall framework, or guidance about the marine environment and that there are important gaps in regulatory control.
 
All agreed there is a lack of nature conservation expertise amongst decision makers but the conservation bodies disagreed that there is currently insufficient knowledge about marine ecology and the effects of change.
 
All agreed that sometimes science may not be used appropriately and decisions may not be fully informed.
 
There is a high level of agreement that the legislation is largely reactive and piecemeal, that the UK has taken the"least pain approach" to tackling EU legislation and devolution of government is further complicating the regimes.

1.6 All agreed that the duty to have regard to nature conservation is of limited effectiveness.

 
1.7 The conservation bodies all disagreed but others agreed that the discretionary powers to help nature conservation are of limited effectiveness and there are problems with byelaws.
 
1.8 Except for the conservation bodies, all agreed that controls intended to protect natural resources are quite effective in achieving their purposes.

 
1.9 All agreed that there is a need for a clear vision statement by government, supported by a strategy and clear national policy guidance about marine nature conservation.
 
All agreed that a coordinating body is needed and that it is essential to improve enforcement and policing of statutory regimes at sea.
 
All agreed that it may be better to bring all the existing legislation together, take away the departmental labels, bring the regulators together, identifying gaps and overlaps and re-sort into one, more effective process.
 
All agreed that a wider zonal approach or one related to marine ecosystems or processes would be a better approach than one based on area designations alone.
 
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Please cite as: , (2000), Report on Consultations about a Workshop to review the effectiveness of statutory regimes for Marine Nature Conservation