Environment Minister Richard Benyon has announced that the final decision on which of the 31 proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England will be designated will be made over the summer with the aim of making designations in the autumn.

At the same time Government will indicate its proposed approach to the next stage of work on MCZs.

The announcement follows publication of the 40,632 responses to the public MCZ consultation which took place from December 2013 to March 2013.

You can read the summary of responses on the Defra website.

Caroline Price, RYA Planning and Environmental Manager "Whilst we still have a bit longer to wait for the final decision we are pleased to see Defra reiterate its commitment that an 'adequate [scientific] evidence base' must support any decisions 'that may have social and economic impacts and effects on peoples' livelihoods"

"We have been pushing this particular point because it will be on the basis of the evidence that the management measures, which could impact on recreational boating, for each MCZ will be devised in the future".

Of the 31 sites proposed for designation in 2013 the RYA has objections to only one of the sites: the Aln Estuary recommended MCZ contains a small charted anchorage in the one location in which a vessel can stay afloat at all states of the tide in the Estuary and we will be seeking to retain access to this resource.

The omission of the detail of management measures from this consultation means that we still don't really know what designation will actually mean to the local community.  

Kelp Forest, image credit: Jim Greenfield and Natural England