Sunday, 31 March 2013

Government Cuts Marine Environment Protection

Another failure, another broken promise, a cut to the environment while there is money to reduce tax on the rich.

Environmentalists have accused the government of dragging its feet. This is because 127 zones were originally nominated for protection after a compromise deal agreed with other users of the sea.

Jolyon Chesworth from the Wildlife Trusts said: "We are disappointed at the rate of progress. The government has an international obligation to protect wildlife in the seas.

"The marine environment is not as obvious to people as it is when they see wildlife walking through a woodland or downland but it's just as important and equally worthy of protection.

"The 127 zones were only nominated after very long discussions with anglers, sailors and the fishing industry. We are now being asked to compromise on a compromise."

But environment minister Mr Benyon told the BBC that with cuts to the Defra budget, the cost of making scientific assessments and then developing rules for the use of different areas could not be dismissed.

"We are constrained by a hugely expensive process at a time when we have little money in government", he said.

"I want to do as many zones as we can for as little as we can. People have waited many years for this; we will designate the first tranche in September and will announce the next lot for consultation then."

Environmentalists are worried that the UK might slither back from its international commitment to create an ecologically coherent network of sites.

They are angry that several key sites have been left out of the first tranche on the grounds that insufficient evidence was supplied to justify them.

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