Plymouth National Marine Park Consultation
Over the last year there has been much debate and discussion around creating the UK’s first National Marine Park in the waters of Plymouth Sound.
Plymouth City Council, working with Luke Pollard MP and other local partners, is keen to take this conversation further by seeking views on what such a National Marine Park could achieve and on the benefits that it could deliver.
They recently ran a consultation from 15 January 2019 to 26 February 2019. Find out more at https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/marinepark. You can see Luke’s response below:
Question 1: Do you agree with the concept of designating the first National Marine Park in Plymouth Sound?
Question 2: Do you agree that a National Marine Park should enhance social and economic benefits as well as enhancing the natural environment?
Question 3: What do you think are the environmental benefits of creating a National Marine Park?
Designation of Plymouth Sound as the UK’s first National Marine Park will allow conservation, recreation and business opportunities will be guided by a shared approach to stewardship and environmental focus. It will allow organisations, members of the public and those involved in habitat and marine protection to have a platform for their work and allow greater public understanding of the protections that already exist in the Sound. We have a fantastic array of marine wildlife and habitats in the proposed area but very little public understanding about the conservation measures already in place to protect them. This status would allow for plain English understanding of the importance of these marine areas.
Question 4: How can a National Marine Park deliver economic benefits to the area?
Plymouth is so good at so many things but we are best at not telling anyone how good we are. This is why it is so important that we direct attention and focus on areas where we already enjoy a lead such as marine science and engineering and where we have brilliant natural habitats worthy of protection, greater understanding and focus. Promoting these economic sectors allows our economy to grow and our city to achieve its potential in the marine arenas.
The benefits are considerable and include:
- It would enhance local sustainable socio-economic activities, such as tourism and low impact fishing.
- We know that National Parks in general are significant economic drivers for their local region bringing in tourists from outside of the region and generating jobs for the local community. Dartmoor and Exmoor attract 5 million visitors every year with an estimated economic value of over £200 million. National Marine Parks offer the potential of similar returns although they have not yet been quantified.
- The National Marine Park concept has the opportunity, if rolled out across the UK, to generate further value from our marine environment and supplement traditional seaside economies based on fishing by boosting tourism and creating jobs.
- The NMP status also provides a platform for our city’s marine industries to build further on. This common and high-level designation will help drive focus for those businesses and organisations active in the marine environment and help enhance our tourist and investment offer.
Question 5: How would communities benefit from the creation of a National Marine Park?
Plymouth suffers from considerable inequalities. We know from the work of the Plymouth Fairness Commission that 20% of children in our city have never seen the sea and a staggering one in two children have never been to a beach. To address these inequalities we need to address the ability to access recreational environments, and address structural inequalities. There is already a number of programmes to engage communities with the marine environments and promote marine education and marine citizenship that would be enhanced by this designation. Indeed, I am convinced that further investment would flow and addressing social and economic inequalities of those accessing the marine environment must be part of the technical sell for this project.
There is some evidence that a National Marine Park may be more socially inclusive than currently existing National Parks – seaside visits are more likely to be taken by families and those with lower incomes. There is significant evidence to demonstrate that time spent in marine environments has benefits for overall health and wellbeing but also a substantial factor in the protection of mental health.
Question 6: Do you agree with the vision for the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park?
Yes – I think it’s important that the project is accessible to the general population, a way for people to feel a part of the vision in plain English whilst protecting the delicate environment and providing access for naval and commercial shipping.
Question 7: Do you support the proposed objectives for the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park?
Yes – increasing public and business ownership of our marine environment, buy-in and engagement to the vision will in turn lead to greater social and economic benefits.
Are there any other objectives that you think the National Marine Park should deliver?
Although covered in the objectives, I want to stress the importance of building in a strategy to ensure that provision is made to increase access for those in the more deprived areas of Plymouth and also that all levels of education (early years, primary, secondary and further education) collaborate in nurturing marine citizenship throughout the city.
Question 8: Do you agree with the name Plymouth Sound National Marine Park?
Question 9: Do you agree with the proposed initial area for designation and the proposed extension area?
Question 10: Do you agree with the proposal to have a fuzzy line to show how far inland the designation reaches?
Question 11: Do you agree with the proposed designation timetable?
Yes – I think it is key for the Plymouth Sound designation to happen in collaboration with the Mayflower commemorations – however I think it is important there is a clear timeline for the further developments into phase 2. I would stress that we do not need Government funding to make this a reality but we might want to be aware of Government and regional funding streams to allow us to motor faster, develop further proposals and quicker and deliver more as part of the project.
Question 12: Do you agree that the designation of the Plymouth Sound National Marine Plymouth should set the framework for a network of National Marine Parks around the country?
Yes – I hope that the lessons learned and benefits we hope to see will encourage the Government to replicate the great work in Plymouth across the country. I would like to see the creation of a ‘Plymouth Standard’ for National Marine Parks. This benchmark would allow other areas to aspire and work towards marine park status while acknowledging the pioneering role of Plymouth as the UK’s first National Marine Park and our role in creating a legacy for other cities, coastal towns and regions to follow in the future. We should not underestimate the importance of this as a proposal and its potential future application to other parts of the UK coastline.