Defra has now embarked on Tranche 3 (the final tranche) of the Marine Conservation Zone designation programme. The aim of this tranche is to complete the Blue Belt, an ecologically coherent network of well-managed marine protected areas around England. 

Through this process, Natural England's role will be to provide evidence-based scientific advice. Most of the site options will come from the 2011 Regional Projects, however, a small number of new site options and third-party proposed highly mobile species sites are under consideration to ensure the goal of ecological coherence is met.

Defra will announce the final list of sites and features to be formally considered in Tranche 3 at the beginning of the formal consultation period, scheduled for late summer/autumn 2017. However, in the coming months, Defra and Natural England will work together to ensure that these sites meet certain criteria and evidence standards. 

The Minister will use advice from Natural England, along with socio-economic information, to make the final designation decisions. Sites will be designated in 2018, within one year of the public consultation period commencing. 

In the Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight (IoW) area there are 11 site options. From west to east, these sites are: Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges, South of Portland, South Dorset, Purbeck Coast (incorporating the Regional Project recommended site Broadbench to Kimmeridge Bay), Studland Bay, Poole Rocks, Southbourne Rough, Albert Field, and three around the Isle of Wight; Yarmouth to Cowes, Norris to Ryde, and Bembridge.

Community drop-in sessions 

In light of this, Natural England are holding locally focused drop-in events where recreational boaters can ask questions, raise concerns and receive information about the sites under consideration:

  • Thistle Hotel, Poole - 7 March 2017 16:00 - 19:00
  • Riverside Community Centre, Newport, Isle of Wight - 8 March 2017  16:00 - 19:00
  • Holiday Inn, Southampton (Herbert Walker Avenue)  - 9 March 2017 16:00 - 19:00

Drop-in events for the wider community will also take place on the following dates:

  • Chesil Beach Visitor Centre, Portland - 21 March 2017  14:00 - 19:00
  • Riverside Community Centre, Newport, IoW - 22 March 2017  14:00 - 19:00 
  • Studland Village Hall, Studland - 29 March 2017  13:30 - 18:30

If you would like more information on any of the proposed sites in this area or the broader MCZ process, these events will provide an opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns and receive more information. For more information, please email the local Natural England MCZ team at

The RYA closely monitors MCZ developments and provides regular updates on the progress of MCZs/MPAs through the Current Affairs hub on the website, its range of e-newsletters and the quarterly RYA Magazine. For further information, see

RYA members can contact the RYA Planning and Environment team should they have any enquiries on 023 8060 4222 or