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UK Marine Bill Delayed (Updated 24 Nov 06)

Nov 16,2006 SACN

SACN has recieved this communication from the Devon Maritime Forum.

Dear Forum colleagues,

The government decision not to include a Marine Bill in the current session of Parliament was obviously disappointing to all of us.

This is especially so considering the magnitude of the response to the consultation (over 1200 responses of which nearly 400 were detailed and substantial, representing at least 2 years of human effort!) and the general consensus over the need for primary legislation.

It is too early to know the precise reasons for the Bill to be delayed and one can only speculate that it was competing for space on the agenda with the Climate Change Bill and the large number of security initiatives.

Reports in some of our newspapers suggest that there were severe difficulties with the devolved assemblies.

Either way, good stewardship of our seas and their natural resources are a key to sustainability and future prosperity and the issues raised are no less urgent than when the government initiated the process.

As Chairman of the Devon Maritime Forum and the Advisory Committee for the Protection of the Sea (ACOPS), I feel that the role of stakeholder forums has not been diminished by this setback; indeed we have greater responsibilities to ensure that our voices are heard and that pressure for change is increased. I will urge my colleagues with executive responsibility to support a workshop in early 2007 where we examine the way forward and hopefully reiterate the needs.

For its part, ACOPS has already made arrangements to hold a workshop in February in Westminster together with the cross party Group of Legislators for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), in order to re-examine the needs for improved management of our marine environment.

Yesterday, I returned from a meeting in Helsinki on the EU Maritime Strategy Directive organised by the Finnish Presidency.

As a keynote speaker, I had the opportunity to engage in a productive dialogue with EU officials, Baltic legislators and representatives of stakeholder groups.

A number of other countries are adopting marine spatial planning tools and launching their marine bills and momentum is rapidly growing across Europe.

My belief is that this momentum will envelop the UK but it is a pity that we are seen as laggards in this process rather than leaders.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament had the first reading of the Marine Strategy Directive; the Committee called for greater stakeholder involvement and stressed the importance of sub-regional bodies.

This is an open invitation for groups such as the DMF to increase their engagement and become strong drivers for change.

We hope you will agree with this assertion and continue your valued support.

Yours sincerely,
Laurence Mee
Devon Maritime Forum - Chairman

*** 24 Nov 06 ***

Presumably this correspondance from DEFRA is intended to reassure stakeholders that the Marin Bill proposals are not 'dead in the water'

To: Marine Bill Stakeholders

24 November 2006


The consultation exercise earlier this year led to over 1200 responses, many of which provided substantial amounts of useful information. I am very grateful to those of you who were able to find the time to comment, or were able to contribute at one of our Marine Bill Forum events.

Although the volume of material has taken some time to deal with, the responses have been enormously helpful in refining our thinking.

Since the consultation we have made considerable progress and we have been working to agree the way forward with other Government departments and the devolved administrations.

We want to move the public debate forward on the proposals for the Marine Bill.

Our Ministers have recently decided that they want to do this by publishing a White Paper on more detailed proposals early in 2007.

Our aim is to publish the White Paper in March to avoid clashing with the elections in Scotland and Wales.

We have been set a demanding task and our priority in the coming weeks will be to write and agree the White Paper text. Inevitably, this will mean that our availability for meetings and other engagements will be limited and I hope that you will bear with us during this period.

The publication of a White Paper will give us an opportunity to talk to you about the detail of our proposals and what the implications are for you.

There will be a full 12 week consultation period.

As with this year’s consultation, we intend to supplement the formal written process with other activities.

We want to make sure that you all have the opportunity to let us know what you think.

We want the Marine Bill to deliver positive changes to the way we plan and manage marine activities and how we protect the marine environment.

We are looking forward to talking to you about the detailed proposals and listening to what you have to say.

Yours sincerely

Dave Bench
Head of Marine Legislation Division
Telephone 020 7270 8711 / 8707


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