New Bill to save UK sea life

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The Independent Online

Fish and other sea life species are to be protected in up to a fifth of Britain's coastal waters by new marine reserves, the Government said yesterday.

A new Marine Bill will set up a UK-wide planning system which will include measures to speed up approvals for offshore windfarms – at the same time as bringing in a new right of access to the coastline.

The Bill will be put into law before the end of this Parliament, which in practice means either this autumn or in autumn 2009.

The Marine Conservation Society said it appeared to be a rehash of existing laws.

"Our seas are in a thoroughly rundown state ... and it's about time the Government recognised the consequences of its actions over the last three or four decades," said Simon Brockington, the MCS head of conservation.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a new Marine Management Organisation would be created to regulate development and activity at sea, and enforce environmental laws.

The Bill will also introduce a coastal "right-to-roam" – giving people the freedom to walk the English coast.