From early beginnings in the 1960s, environmental law from Europe and the UK has mushroomed since the 1990s, culminating in the recent Marine and Coastal Access Act. Management of the environment is spread between several bodies as follows
Under DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
- The Marine Management Organisation concentrating on Martime Planning and granting consents for works to be carried out
- The Environment Agency whose duties include pollution control, flood defence, and river management
- Natural England (and their counterparts in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland) who are the adviser to government, national, local and other agencies whose duties impact on the environment such as harbour authorities
Under the Dept for Transport there is
- The Maritime and Coastguard Agency which is responsible for ensuring that ships plying British Waters are safe and unlikely to pollute. The Agency also runs the Coastguard which is responsible for search and rescue operation. It is an oddity (and an overlap with the EA) that the MCA are also responsible for implementing the Port Waste Management Plans that apply to all ports and marinas.
Much of the detailed environmental management is done by the harbour authorities and by the local authorities,all of whom have a responsibility under the Habitats Regulations to have regard for the environment in all their activities. In the Solent they operate together through SEMS, the Solent European Marine Site management scheme. SEMS is managed under contract by Solent Forum and details can be found on the SEMS page.
Fisheries management is an important area of environmental management that is dealt with separately
The legislation and site designations are incredibly complex and overlap. Solent Protection Society is deeply concerned about this complexity and its effect on Solent users, especially since the recent Marine and Coastal Access Act has brought in new powers for the creation of wardens, and additonal prosecution options. This whole area is of general concern, so it is highlighted in the Marine Conervation Zones item in our Current Issues section
The MMO is gradually building a view of all the designations on its ‘MMO Portal’ where it is possible to see the various designations and areas in the Solent.
We have tried to explain the relationship between the various regulations in a paper called “Do you know your MCZ from your SAC?” . But so much is going on in the environmental world that we can only recommend that you follow our blog and sign up for our e-newsletter (on the left at the bottom) to keep up with what is happening.
Conservation management is also in the hands of a number of NGOs. While we may not agree with all the actions of some NGOs, we do recognise their commitment to our environmental future. Lets debate how we get there! We have set aside some space for them to set out their stall. Click here to view