Emerging Policies and Legislation

In 2018 the UK government published its 25-Year Environment Plan which set out the goals for improving the natural environment, including our marine resources.

The plan highlighted that working collaboratively and at an ecosystem scale would be key to securing a healthy and productive marine environment.

The Environment Bill (expected autumn 2021) builds on the 25-Year Environment Plan, and looks to enhance the UK’s existing wildlife and environmental legislation. Whilst marine ecosystems are not the core focus of the bill, a number of policies and strategies are expected to interact with the coastal zone and have implications for our seas:

Biodiversity Net Gain:

It is expected that developers will have to demonstrate how they have improved biodiversity through their project, as a requirement of planning permission being granted. Terrestrial planning regulations extend to mean low water, so this will include the intertidal area. The YMNP is working with partners to understand how net gain might be implemented on the Yorkshire coast, and how it could work alongside existing protected areas, activities and initiatives to support our sensitive marine ecosystems.

Local Nature Recovery Strategies and Networks:

As part of a duty on public authorities to ‘conserve and enhance’ biodiversity, local nature recovery strategies will be produced. These strategies must contain a statement of biodiversity priorities and a local habitat map, to include Marine Protected Areas. The areas covered by each strategy will be determined by the secretary of state, but are expected to be based on local authority boundaries. As such, it is likely that the Yorkshire coast will be split between at least two strategies and networks. The YMNP will lead collaboration and information-sharing between neighbouring strategies at the coast, and work with partners to ensure that marine priorities and initiatives take an ecosystem-scale approach.

Species Conservation and Protected Site Strategies:

Two different types of habitat and species strategies are also expected to be included in the Bill, with both covering the marine area out to 12 nautical miles. These strategies will help to enhance and restore our marine ecosystems, complementing the marine protected area network and supporting a holistic approach to management.

The Fisheries Act

The Fisheries Act (2020) updates and replaces previous European Union commitments, setting out national objectives for fisheries management. The Act requires that a Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) be produced by the fisheries policy authorities, explaining how long-term sustainability of fish stocks will be achieved. The JFS must include fisheries management plans, which set out the policies designed to restore or maintain the stocks of specific species. These must be produced before the end of 2022, and are likely to be implemented by the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on the Yorkshire coast.

Across government and regulatory organisations, the natural capital approach to managing, using and restoring the natural environment is becoming more commonplace. This refers to the services we receive from the natural environment (such as food, energy and nutrient cycling) and the value that is given to those resources. The natural capital approach is intended to provide an alternative perspective and set of tools that can improve understanding of the environment, our dependence on it, and the wider implications of allowing it to decline.

Find out how the YMNP is working with partners to understand how the natural capital approach could be applied to the Yorkshire coast.

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Learn how the YMNP encourages and enables responsible use and enjoyment of the marine environment.

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