In a Written Ministerial Statement made on 15 November 2011 Environment Minister, Richard Benyon MP stated that some of the MCZs recommended by the four regional MCZ projects in England will require further investigation to be commissioned by Defra, in order to ensure that the supporting evidence is adequate.

He commented further that an 'adequately robust evidence base will be essential when we come to implement management measures'.  

However, the RYA believes that these investigations should be extended even further.

Alana Murphy, RYA Planning and Environment Advisor said "We are pleased that the lack of supporting evidence for some of the recommended MCZs has been recognised and that further investigation will be undertaken. Many of the stakeholders engaged with the four regional projects voiced concerns over this, including the RYA.  

"However, we believe there should also be further investigation into the validity of the various assertions made about the impacts of human activities on the species and habitats proposed for designation.  This is vital in order to fully inform the process and ensure that management measures are not disproportionate.  

"We are also concerned with Mr Benyon's comment that Defra will also take the opportunity to look at 'other marine features which may benefit from spatial protection'. We will be seeking clarification from Defra as to the intention behind this statement."  

As a consequence of these further investigations, the MCZ impact assessment and formal advice will be provided in July 2012, six months later than originally planned. The formal public consultation is scheduled to take place by the end of 2012, with the first MCZs being designated, it is envisaged, in 2013.

Read Richard Benyon's Written Ministerial Statement in full.