Consultation on pilot sites for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs)

Closes 28th September 2022

Defra has launched a consultation on proposals to designate pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), including a candidate site of Allonby Bay, Cumbria. 

In 2019 the UK Government commissioned an independent review, the Benyon Review, to explore the concept of HPMAs. The Review concluded that they are an essential component of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) network and recommended their establishment. The government accepted the recommendation to take forward some pilot HPMAs and this consultation seeks to identify those pilot sites.

HPMAs were defined in the Benyon review and government response to that review as “areas of the sea that allow the protection and recovery of marine ecosystems by prohibiting extractive, destructive and depositional uses and allowing only non-damaging levels of other activities to the extent permitted by international law”. The aim of designating HPMAs is that, by setting aside some areas of sea with high levels of protection, nature will recover to a more natural state, allowing the ecosystem to thrive.

The consultation provides an opportunity to feedback views on the 5 candidate HPMAs including the opportunity to comment on their boundaries and provide relevant evidence – Defra is seeking, in particular, additional evidence on potential social and economic aspects of designating these candidate HPMAs, and site level ecological information. The responses, along with evidence gathered from other sources including site visits, will be taken into account in determining which of the 5 candidate HPMAs to designate as pilot HMPAs and what the final boundaries of those sites will be.

The 5 candidate HPMAs proposed cover a diverse range of species and habitats, from intertidal mudflats and biogenic reefs to kelp forests and mosaics of subtidal sedimentary habitats. There are 2 inshore and 3 offshore sites, covering between them the North Sea, English Channel and the Irish Sea.

The 5 candidate sites are:

Allonby Bay, Inshore, Irish Sea

Dolphin Head, Offshore, English Channel

Inner Silver Pit South, |Offshore, North Sea

Lindisfarne, Inshore, North Sea

North-east of Farnes Deep, Offshore, North Sea

For more information and to respond follow this link.

Please note that there a lot of associated documents listed on the consultation website and the one introducing the consultation in detail is some way down the list.

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