Scheme to protect iconic Sussex coastline needs support from you

SEAFORD: Cuckmere estuary
SEAFORD: Cuckmere estuary

The coastal area including Seven Sisters and the Ouse and Cuckmere estuaries could be protected as a sensitive marine wildlife site.

South Downs National Park wants residents to back a proposed Beachy Head West Marine Conservation Zone covering what it calls ‘one of the most iconic marine areas in the country’.

Richard Benyon, Natural Environment Minister, visited the South Downs National Park on December 12 to launch the public consultation into the Government’s proposed Marine Conservation Zones.

The Beachy Head West Marine Conservation Zone is one of 31 proposed sites which aim to protect the most sensitive marine wildlife sites.

The Government is proposing to designate around 10,900 km2 of marine habitat in the first phase next year.

The Beachy Head zone joins the South Downs National Park and extends from the iconic Seven Sisters and Beachy Head seascape across to Brighton.

It would safeguard the Ouse and Cuckmere estuaries as well as the offshore chalk shelf, characterised by underwater ridges and gullies which protect a rich variety of marine wildlife.

The plans have been announced exactly 25 years after the Sussex Heritage Coast area, which runs from Seaford to Eastbourne, was designated as a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area.

Phil Belden, Director of Operations for the South Downs National Park, said: “The proposed Beachy Head West Marine Conservation Zone covers one of the most iconic marine areas in the country and is home to rare and vulnerable wildlife such as the velvet crab, squat lobster and the boring piddock.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to see this area properly protected and everyone who loves and cares for our precious coast – for recreation, fishing and conservation – should get behind this proposal.”

Public comments on the proposals must be submitted by 31 March 2013.

Consultation documents and information on how to get involved and can be found on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/12/13/marine-conservation-zones-1212/.

Responses should be sent to either mcz@defra.gsi.gov.uk by email or by post to MCZ Team, c/o Post Room, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

More information about Marine Conservation Zones and is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/12/13/marine-conservations-zones/