Clause 117 — Grounds for designation of MCZs

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 26th October 2009.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:30 pm, 26th October 2009

I congratulate Ms Clark on tabling the amendment. Right from the start, we have supported an ecosystem approach to the designation of marine conservation zones, and we believe that the amendment would provide further options for designation.

In Committee, I was opposed to attempts to require the designation of a defined percentage of our seas, and I stand by that position as I want the Bill to be effective. It would be easy for any Government to achieve a particular percentage by designating relatively benign or uninteresting parts of the sea. We want an ecologically coherent network of MCZs to be implemented as quickly as possible.

I am inclined to support amendment 3, as it leads on from that original proposal in a more sensible way. It would not serve to upset the balance that has been achieved between socio-economic and environmental considerations, and if it is pressed to a vote, we will support it.

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