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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Duties relating to network
Section 123: Creation of network of conservation sites

349.This section places a duty on the appropriate authority to designate MCZs so as to contribute to the creation of a network of marine sites. Subsections (1) and (2) set out the duty to designate MCZs and the objective for such designation. Subsection (3) sets out what the network of MCZs should achieve, listing three conditions. These are based on key elements of the definition of an ecologically coherent network developed for the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic (OSPAR). The conditions require that the network should contribute to the conservation of the marine environment, protect features that represent a range of features present in the UK marine area and reflect the fact that conservation of a feature may require more than one site to be designated.

350.Subsection (4) provides that the network of relevant conservation sites may include European Sites notified under the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and wetland sites designated under the Ramsar Convention.

351.Subsection (5) requires the appropriate authority to have regard to relevant obligations under EU and international law.

352.Subsection (6) requires the appropriate authority to prepare a statement setting out the principles which it will apply in designating MCZs to help create the UK network. It is a requirement to lay the statement before the appropriate legislature and it must be reviewed, and if necessary updated, periodically.

Section 124: Report

353.This section requires the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers and the Scottish Ministers to report to Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament, as appropriate, on progress in designating a network of MCZs. The purpose of the report is to specify the extent to which the MCZs that each authority has designated in its respective area contribute to the achievement of an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas, and any further steps necessary to help meet that objective.

354.Subsection (2) sets out the information that must appear in the report. This includes the number of MCZs designated during the relevant period, information about amendments to designation orders and the extent to which the authority believes that the conservation objectives for each MCZ have been achieved. Subsection (2)(c) requires Ministers to report on the number of sites where licensable marine activities, fishing and the taking of animals and plants have been restricted or prohibited. Subsection (3) provides for the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers and the Scottish Ministers to direct the appropriate statutory nature conservation body to carry out monitoring of MCZs.

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