Royal Navy signs up to protect UK marine conservation areas


The Royal Navy has adopted a new approach to minimising its impact on the environment that could become a blueprint for other Naval services.  It has produced Environmental Protection Guidelines (Maritime) (EPG(M)), an interactive military layer of electronic charting which provides advice on the suitability of military activities in the vicinity of designated marine protected areas across the UK’s marine area. By following these guidelines, ship planners and operators can be confident that their actions and exercises minimise the risks to the environment and are not contravening legal restrictions.


The EPG(M) has been developed over three years in consultation with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) on behalf of the UK statutory nature conservation bodies (SNCBs1).   The process used to develop the EPG(M) has been endorsed by the SNCBs. The EPG(M) provides details for consideration across all activities undertaken by the Royal Navy near marine protected areas, and covers activities taking place in the air, on land, at sea or underwater. The Navy has signed a Statement of Intent committing itself to the new guidelines.


Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Capability) Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, said:
“The marine environment faces an array of increasing pressures and expanding legal protection aims to safeguard certain species and areas.  The Royal Navy is not exempt from this legislation and our planners, ships, staff and aircrew face a growing range of environmental considerations, not only during training but also when on operations. EPG(M) works within our electronic charting system to offer clear and interactive guidance to our people when planning so that they can continue to deliver the UK’s maritime defence priorities safely.

I believe that this is a real advance and further tangible evidence of the effort being expended by the RN to protect the environment and minimise our ecological impact.”

Royal Navy MESAT chart

It is thought that the EPG(M) is the first of its kind among Naval forces. Currently the EPG(M) offers guidance for the UK marine area only, but work is underway to expand the tool to cover the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, and EU waters.

JNCC has praised the actions of the Royal Navy in this initiative to improve the protection it provides for the marine environment.

Dr John Goold, JNCC Marine Director, said: “The Royal Navy has taken a proactive and innovative approach to minimising the potential environmental impact of its marine activities. The UK statutory nature bodies strongly welcome and support this positive approach and the Navy’s continued consideration of the marine environment."

“I believe the Royal Navy can be confident that it is moving in the right direction and we are pleased to co-sign this Statement of Intent on behalf of the UK statutory nature conservation bodies.”


The Statement of Intent lays out how the tools will be used, maintained and reviewed so the Royal Navy and the SNCBs  can continue to work together to maintain the effectiveness of the EPG(M) in future.


JNCC provides advice on activities beyond 12nm, and also acts as the coordinating body on behalf of the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies* for providing advice at the UK level on military activities in the marine environment


Full press release issued on 11 December 2013 download here