MCZs – Tranche 2

MCZs: Defra consultation on the second tranche.

The Solent Protection Society welcomes the Marine Conservation Zone initiative and considers that MCZs will greatly benefit the environs and ecology of the Solent, provided that designation and enforcement are based on sound science and wise management.

On Friday 30th January, Defra announced the consultation on the second tranche of MCZs which includes the Needles recommended MCZ. The three other Solent rMCZs – Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, and Cowes to Yarmouth – are likely to be consulted on for designation in the third tranche.

The Consultation document for the second (2015) tranche can be found at this link to the Defra website and is to be completed and submitted on the internet.

Regarding Bembridge, Norris to Ryde and Cowes to Yarmouth rMCZs, Defra has concluded that further engagement with key stakeholders was required in order to quantify the social and economic effects of designation. Details of the Needles rMCZ and of the various issues requiring clarification in the other MCZs can be found on the website mentioned above – scroll down the page below the link to the start of the consultation and you will find a list. Click on the appropriate MCZ of your choice.

The Solent Protection Society continues to work with Defra to achieve a balance between the benefits of marine conservation in our pressurised and highly populated Solent waters and a conservation management regime which is acceptable to those engaged in both business and leisure activities in these waters.

New Defra Minister

Liz Truss M P
Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, has been appointed Environment Secretary in the re-shuffle.  She has a keen interest in flooding and will lead the government’s response to last winter’s disasters.  Responsibility for the MMO, NE, EA and the fishing IFCAs come within her department.  She will be ultimately responsible for the designation of MCZs in the Solent in early 2016.

The new IPCC report.

The new report from the International Panel on Climate Change substantially confirms previous findings. Full details are available here. You can read the summary here.There is no disagreement among the authors about the confidence of the predictions.

Only one dissenting author expressed disappointment at the lack of emphasis on mitigation and adaptation. There is no doubt that action at government level to reduce emissions needs to be vigorously encouraged, but we will have to learn to cope with significant climate change impacts already built into the system.. But that is at a global and international level. Locally we need to think what  can be done to alleviate the effects of flooding, prolonged drought and potential changes in weather patterns.

For the first time, the IPCC have clearly acknowledged that in addition to vigorous measures to reduce the effect of emissions on the climate, there is already so much change built nto the climate system that we are going to have to learn to adapt to inevitable changes at some level. The SPS Council will be considering the report when the promised third part of its review is published. This part should cover ,inter alia, the action that the IPCC believes is necessary to adapt to climate change. Such action is likely to have implications for the Solent and could eventually become the subject of legislation

In the Solent we are already seeing changes that maybe attributable to changes in weather patterns. It is not good enough to simply allow changing weather to wipe out important features such as the saltmarsh areas of the West Solent and Portsmouth Harbour. Already we are seeing rapid declines in some Solent bird populations. compensation projects such as Medmerry are welcome, but not enough on their own.

Protection of the environment needs to have a human context.

Having conveniently ignored sound science for the past sixty years, we are sadly now only able to address ‘damage limitation’  (adaptation and mitigation) rather than ‘damage avoidance’ (prevention).  However while there are many other coastal areas of the world far more fragile than the Solent, that does not mean we should continue to ignore the topic –  it won’t go away and will become increasingly critical.


MCZ developments in the Solent

Four Solent MCZ being considered for designation by 2015.

On 24th February 2014, Defra announced that four Solent rMCZs are being considered for designation by the end of 2015.   Further scientific research and assessment is being carried out. The research will underpin future management measures which will be specific to each MCZ.   SPS will be keeping a careful eye to ensure that the management measures are appropriate to the site, taking into account both conservation of species and the social and economic health of the area.  SPS will also monitor the extent and appropriateness of any enforcement measures which might be introduced.

The four Solent rMCZs to be considered in this second tranche of the MCZ designation programme are Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Yarmouth to Cowes, and the Needles.

For background information about Marine Conservation Zones follow the following link:

For more technical information regarding the Solent rMCZs, the Natural England “Balanced Seas” reports can be found on the following link:-




Can we create saltmarsh?

Hannah Mossman’s presentation to the SPS Council and invited guests on 3rd March bubbled with enthusiasm for the subject, and clear technical understanding.It was yet another step in the efforts of SPS to understand the issues arising from saltmarsh loss in the Solent. This interest was focussed in a conference that SPS organised in 2008. (click  here to view the conference proceedings)

Hannah Mossman
Hannah Mossman

Many of us have heard of grand coastal realignment schemes such as that £25 million project at Medmerry near Selsey. Such things are way beyond the scope of small charities such as SPS. But Hannah’s efforts to improve the quality of newly created saltmarsh were on a much more modest scale-but no less important. She is trying to re create the conditions in which marsh flowers can thrive so that the new saltmarsh can reproduce that which is being lost to coastal squeeze.

It was fascinating, and may even have shown a way in which local people con collaborate to help get the best from Coastal projects.

The slideshow from Hannah’s presentation can be viewed by clicking here.