Plans to protect UK’s ‘blue belt’ unveiled on World Oceans Day

8th June 2018

Web stives shutterstock 142418206

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Marine ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Sustainability



The UK government has today unveiled plans to create more than 40 new marine conservation zones across the nation’s ‘blue belt’ coastline on World Oceans Day.

The new sites will span almost 12,000 square kilometres from Devon to Berwick, covering an area almost eight times the size of Greater London – the largest expansion of protected marine areas to date.

No new damaging activities such as dredging or significant coastal development will be allowed in the zones, while existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to recover.

Rare or threatened marine species that will be protected by the expanded blue belt include the short-snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock’s tail seaweed.

Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “The UK is surrounded by some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world. We must protect these precious habitats for future generations.

“Today marks an important step towards completing our blue belt. We are creating safe havens for our cherished wildlife and putting the UK at the forefront of marine protection.”

A total of 41 new marine conservation zones were proposed today, which subject to a consultation, will add to the 50 sites previously designated around England in 2013 and 2016.

If approved, the new tranche will bring the total area of protection to over 32,000 square kilometres, boosting the coverage of Marine Protected Areas to 209,000 squared kilometres – two-fifths of the UK’s coast.

This comes ahead of a planned speech by prime minister Theresa May at the G7 summit in Canada today, where she is expected to call for global action in eradicating the oceans from plastics and other harmful waste.

May will urge world leaders to follow the UK’s lead in working with business, industry and NGOs to find solutions, arguing that the challenge will not be addressed without a joined-up approach.

“The UK government is a world leader on this issue, with our 25-Year Environment Plan setting out a clear ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste to protect our rivers and seas,” May is expected to say.

“Marine plastics pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. This is a global problem, requiring global solutions.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Hosting the energy transition

Sarah Spencer on the clear case for stronger partnerships between farmers and renewable energy developers

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Although many organisations focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is vital to factor in scope 3 emissions and use their footprint to drive business change

31st May 2024

Read more

Joe Nisbet explores the challenges and opportunities of delivering marine net gain through offshore renewables

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA submits response to the Future Homes Standard consultation

31st May 2024

Read more

Hello and welcome to the June/July of Transform.

31st May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close