Water as a resource - the marine environment - Louise Burton, Natural England

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Landscapes for Life - Conference 2013 - East of England. 16th - 18th July 2013

Landscapes for Life - Conference 2013 - East of England. 16th - 18th July 2013

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  • We have three main areas of work Promoting nature conservation and protecting biodiversity Conserving and enhancing the landscape Securing the provision and improvement of facilities for the study, understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment Promoting access to the countryside, open spaces and encouraging open air recreation, and Contributing in other ways to social and economic wellbeing through management of the natural environment. All of which emphases the importance of the natural environment and landscapes as a resource not just an economic one.
  • Many of you may have come across the work of Natural England as a • Statutory adviser to the Government • Statutory consultee within the terrestrial and marine planning systems • Deliverer of Government policy on the natural environment • Advisor on the sustainable implementation of other Government policies • Implementer the Habitats Regulations, We have three main areas of responsibility .... And we deliver our remit under four main themes: • Regulation – we issue licences to carry out activities in a way that protects the natural environment. • Incentives – we deliver the government’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme in England which offers around £400 million per annum as incentives to farmers to protect and enhance the environment and wildlife. • Practical action – we facilitate, encourage, enable, lead and support others to understand and take action for the natural environment and deliver directly through our National Nature Reserves. • Advice – we have a statutory responsibility to give advice to government and to others in relation to any of our functions. In doing this, we take the long-term view and base our advice on sound science and evidence.
  • In the Marine Environment Natural England has a lead role in building a strong evidence base, and in monitoring and reporting on the state of the MPA network We have a remit to report on the wider marine environment, required under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, Habitats and Birds Directives and the MSFD. We provide conservation advice on European Marine Sites and Marine Conservation zones to competent and relevant authorities, including site Conservation Objectives and advice on operations that may impact site features, to enable them to devise appropriate management. The MSFD ultimately underpins all our work in the marine environment; the designation of the MPA network and our monitoring of MPA condition are essential components to enable the UK to deliver on the Directive requirements. Advice to Government and competent and relevant authorities on a wide range of issues and legislation in the marine environment, to underpin decision making in respect of sustainable use of our seas. This includes the implementation of Spatial Plans, and advice on marine licenses and consents, to meet the Government’s long term vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. Regulation and enforcement on SSSIs Natural England have few wholly marine SSSIs, but many intertidal sites covering for example rocky foreshore, sandy bays, mudflats and saltmarsh; many of these sites also form part of European Marine Sites.
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  • Add all this together and it starts to become a confusing picture out there. This slide has on it MPAs and windfarms, and whilst its doesn’t not necessary demonstrate everything that is out there (now and in the future), we can get an impression of the overlap between the two. Also, its not just about lines on maps and designated sites. Many of these sites and new SPAs of course protect mobile species which need to be considered out with their boundaries. One element I was asked to take about today is... Need to find a way to accommodate competing demands on this environment so biodiversity and ecosystems can thrive while contributing to quality of life through economics and pleasure.
  • How do SNCBs see it SO we are faced with a new development and environmental world Obviously, the planning act and the process (new guidance new players, changes in the localism act. Everybody learning how to do it.) it introduced but what else. Its about big issues and big projects – those that would normally get held up thorough long drawn out planning inquiries. Development Offshore windfarms are getting bigger with more turbines, bigger turbines and new technology. This presents bigger uncertainty for developers in terms of how successful a project or new technology might be. They therefore are presented with greater risks both in terms of potential success and investments. Of course, the rewards could be greater too. As SNCBs we are unused to assessing such large developments so far offshore and associated infrastructure such as grid development. We are moving into areas away from the coast where data is poorer increasing uncertainty in our understanding of impacts and pathways. Consenting The consenting regime has changed in the UK. However the front loading process and requirement for developers to consult with SNCBs has potential to have resource issues as development increases. Designations There are new EMS’ that have been/ or are being designated in the offshore environment and these are in areas where windfarms will be built (e.g. SACs for Sandbanks). Over the next few years we are also tasked with providing evidence to classify SPAs for Birds. As well as this we also have the new MCZs. Politics – Growth Agenda, Competing Directives
  • The big issues are still the same, they are just more challenging to address.; CIA – case by case consideration of projects can confound useful CIA and sensible decisions – how can we arrive at more strategic process which allows for the best/ most sustainable projects to be consented? We advocate better strategic environmental assessments by regulators to reduce the number of challenges on individual applications. And make it easier to do it in the right place in the right way (compare to planning) Rochdale envelope – We understand the need for a flexible approach. But need to try to pin it down as much as possible to assist with impact assessment and especially CIA, to avoid over precautionary / provide more realistic advice. Given the scale of the developments – too many worst case scenarios assessed at the same time puts us in a tricky position in terms of our advice Especially because many of the issue come with massive uncertainty. And also for some subjects, the answer can be considered subjective.        
  • Learning from Rounds 1 and 2 The SEA for Round 3 recommend that OWFs are that offshore and not within 20km of the coast – however we note that this is not the case for some south coast OWF and NE demonstration sites. However – NE recommends that as with the case of the demonstration site a social study is undertaken in relation to perceptions before and after construction (and several years after construction) from designated and non designated landscapes to better understand the scale of the impacts. It is obvious that the first SVIAs for Round 1 and 2 under estimated the distance that windfarms can be seen from with people on the North Norfolk coast clearly able to see (and count) the LID turbines off the Lincolnshire coast. With the construction of Sheringham Shoal windfarm I believe that the concept of the curtain effect is being recognised all be it minus Docking Shoal OWF that was refused. And whilst larger turbines can be seen from a greater distance away the issue is now more a cumulative one with a greater number of smaller turbines from several project potentially cluttering the seascape in the north west. We will obviously advise on the potential impacts to seascape but is for government and regulators as decision matters to determine what ‘is too much’! As with ecology consideration at strategic level needs to be given as to when a seascape becomes unviable and no longer supports enjoyment of the natural environment.
  • How do we try to marry up all of the requests on us??!?!? We provide s olution-orientated advice which contributes to sustainable development and protects the natural environment We handle more than 22,000 planning applications every year and through our partnership approach we only object to 0.6 per cent on environmental grounds We work with partners to support local decision-making We are committed to ensuring that regulations protecting species and habitats are effective, are applied proportionately, and do not impose unnecessary burdens Government’s review of Habitat Regulations – key findings In large majority of cases the implementation works well, allowing both the development of key infrastructure and the protection of Natura 2000 sites and species. A policy win win.
  • SNCBs can be more proactive where resources allow to help developers focus on the big issues
  • And the new regime gives us the time, and the now the tools, in which to accomplish that. Unfortunately due to work commitments on East Anglia One OWF I am unable to attend tomorrow. I am sure that many interesting talks and discussions will be had and questions raised. If you have any further questions for Natural England then please do email me. My email address is on the next slide

Transcript

  • 1. Natural England The Marine Environment as a resource presented by Louise Burton
  • 2. Who we are • Established October 2006 under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 – Countryside Agency – English Nature – Rural Development Service • Independent statutory Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) • Statutory advisors – 12 nm English Territorial Waters
  • 3. Purpose “‘Ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced, and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development.” • Nature conservation and biodiversity • Landscape and Seascape • Access and recreation
  • 4. Natural England – a Statutory Nature Conservation Body • Nature conservation and biodiversity • Landscape and Seascape • Access and recreation
  • 5. Marine Function • Provide advice as statutory consultees to underpin sustainable use – Spatial plans – Marine licenses and consents • Designate, monitor, research and advise on MPAs • Support government in implementing Marine Strategy Framework Directive • Regulation and enforcement of SSSIs.
  • 6. Marine protected areas • Natura 2000 or European Marine Sites – Special Areas of Conservation – Special Protection Areas – Habitats and Bird Directive • Marine Conservation Zones – Marine and Coastal Access Act – FOCI and BSH • Sites of Special Scientific Interest – Wildlife and countryside Act • Also wider environment (BAP, OSPAR)
  • 7. Marine Operations we advise on • Energy: offshore renewables, O&G, pipelines & cables • Extractive: aggregates, fisheries • Marine Transport: ports, marinas, jetties/slipways • Other marine works - cables • Pollution incl. emergency response
  • 8. Environmental Considerations • Ecology (birds, mammals, benthos, fish, coastal processes) • Landscape (visual, cultural, historic) & recreation • Protected sites (biodiversity, geological, landscape) • Protected species • Baseline information, impacts, mitigation & monitoring
  • 9. The situation: what is new? Bigger scale Bigger uncertainty Bigger risk Development Planning Act Localism Act New Players New Processes Planning Act Localism Act New Players New Processes Consenting New MPAs Cumulative risks Designations Directives Energy Supply Growth Drivers
  • 10. Focus on the Big Issues • Habitats Regulation Assessments • Cumulative Impacts Assessments • Rochdale Envelopes • Uncertainty
  • 11. Seascape and Visual Impacts
  • 12. Our Advice • Solution orientated • Partnership working • Proportionate protection
  • 13. Key Messages • Do it upfront • Work together • Be open honest and collaborative. Serpula vermicularis reef, Loch Creran, Argyll © SNH Red-throated diver © Ben Dean
  • 14. Parting thought • All still learning • Big issues will remain – ‘We’ve all become much better at looking at the sustainable deployment of renewable as an issue of common interest; one which deserves a thoughtful, collaborative approach, not a challenging, adversarial one.’ – It is hoped that this approach will be the case for all sectors and stakeholders going forwards’
  • 15. Louise.burton@naturalengland.org.uk