WILDLIFE campaigners have criticised the Government’s refusal to protect parts of our coastline.
Calls to designate the Ribble Estuary as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) were ignored last week in a move labelled a “bitter disappointment” by the Wildlife Trust.
Had the plans been granted, the delicate ecosystem of our coast would have received greater protection.
Last week the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released its consultation exercise on MCZs set to be created around the UK.
According to Defra, MCZs “protect areas that are important to conserve the diversity of nationally rare, threatened and representative habitats and species.” Of 127 recommended zones only 31 were earmarked for protection by the multi-million pound project.
The Ribble Estuary did not receive backing, despite support from environmental experts.
North West Wildlife Trusts Marine Conservation Officer Lindsay Sullivan said: “Failure to designate all but a very small proportion of sites recommended by these stakeholders will mean that we lack the ecologically coherent network that our seas so badly need to recover.”
The Ribble Estuary plays an important national role as it is a crucial nursery ground and its sand flats are vital for migrating birds.
Clare Reed, Marine Conservation Officer for North West England, expressed her disappointment at the news.
She said: “The announcement by environment minister Richard Benyon is hugely disappointing.
“These proposals risk selling short the huge numbers of people who have shown their support for the creation of a network of marine protected areas around our shores.
“A process intended to protect our seas through the establishment of a coherent network of marine conservation zones has drifted dramatically off course when measured against the scale and urgency of the threat they face.”