Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, has set out the UK’s vision for seas in a keynote speech at the 2021 Coastal Futures conference.
Minister Pow highlighted the shift of focus towards site management of Marine Protected Areas, following a series of designations last year, and noted the government is working on its response to the review, led by Richard Benyon, into whether and how Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) should be introduced in Secretary of State waters.
The commitment to ensuring that there is a full set of marine plans in place this year was reiterated, along with the aim to publish Part Two of the UK Marine Strategy this Spring.
Following last year’s announcement that a Seabird Conservation Strategy for England will be developed, Minister Pow announced she has “commissioned a comprehensive review of the different pressures our seabirds are facing, in order to develop a holistic strategy with action targeted where it is needed most”. This will be completed in collaboration with conservation organisations, industry and scientists. The Government is also working on a UK Plan of Action on Seabird Bycatch and measures to improve island biosecurity.
The key focus of the Environment Minister’s speech was further detail on the Offshore Wind Enabling Actions Programme, announced in the Autumn Budget. This cross-Government programme will work to improve the understanding of adverse environmental impacts from offshore wind construction and develop approaches to compensating for them, and introduce ‘net gain’ in a marine context.