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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Section 126: Duties of public authorities in relation to certain decisions

360.This section applies to all public authorities with responsibility for authorising applications for certain activities (such as proposed infrastructure development or a dredge) capable of affecting a protected feature of an MCZ or any geological or geomorphological processes on which the conservation of a feature is partially or wholly dependent. It does not apply where the effect is insignificant, in order to avoid capturing very minor matters. The section has effect in relation to all types of consent (however described), including licences granted by the MMO under Part 1 of the Act and planning permissions granted by local planning authorities.

361.Subsection (2) requires a public authority to inform the relevant statutory nature conservation body if it believes a proposed activity will hinder the achievement of the conservation objectives of an MCZ. Subsection (3) states that no authorisation may be granted until 28 days have passed since notice was given. This does not apply, however, where the appropriate statutory conservation body informs the authority that it does not need to wait 28 days or where the authority thinks that there is an urgent need to grant authorisation.

362.Subsections (5), (6) and (7) impose a duty on an authority not to grant authorisation unless it is satisfied that there is no significant risk that the activity will hinder the achievement of the conservation objectives or if certain conditions in subsection (7) are met. These conditions are: (i) the act cannot be carried out in any other way; (ii) the benefit of the act to the public clearly outweighs the risk of environmental damage; and (iii) the person seeking authorisation will take measures of equivalent environmental benefit to the damage that will be, or is likely to be, caused.

363.Subsection (10) requires public authorities to have regard to any advice or guidance given by the appropriate statutory conservation body.

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