Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced in September that the 330sq km of marine habitat off the coast of Dorset, Studland to Portland, will be designated as a Special Area of Conservation.
There had been concerns that anchoring may be restricted in the SAC however, the SAC's Impact Assessment (IA) recognises that the small number of recreational craft which anchor in this area pose little threat to marine life.
It therefore recommends that no measures will need to be put in place to restrict anchoring.
“The RYA raised concerns about the management of activities such as anchoring in its response to the public consultation (held in 2011) and so we are pleased that these have been listened to and that a balanced approach has been recommended that rests on the evidence gathered.
“The original proposal had recommended that ‘anchoring restrictions may be introduced’ within the SAC despite the fact that the evidence Natural England had gathered made it clear that recreational craft anchoring ‘may be insignificant in terms of the site as whole. At the current level of activity, the risk is low…’”.
The IA also makes it clear that the installation of navigational aids to ensure the safety of navigation and the passage of all vessels will not be effected.
Unlike Marine Conservation Zones, economic or social impacts cannot influence the selection of SACs or the delineation of their site boundaries.
The information provided on the type and level of activities taking place in and near the site, contained within the IA, is used only to inform how the site may be managed.
Huge geological variety
According to Natural England The Studland to Portland site exhibits huge geological variety, and its reefs are home to many different marine species, including pink sea fans, cup corals and reef-building mussels.
The site will be managed by a number of organisations including the Marine Management Organisation and the Southern Inshore Fishery and Conservation Authority.
England currently has 36 SACs with marine components that stretch from the Isles of Scilly in the southwest to the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast in the northeast.
You can read more information on the Portland to Studland SAC at the Natural England website.