The Marine Conservation Zone planning process

The Regional Projects started by collecting information about the project area since the recommendations must be made using the best available biological, physical, geological, social and economic data. The Project compiled this information in the form of a ‘Regional Profile’, a central tool for the planning and decision-making work of the Regional Stakeholder Group.

The Marine Conservation Zone recommendations made by the Regional Stakeholder Groups will take account of the national Ecological Network guidance produced by Natural England and JNCC.  This guidance ensures that the Marine Conservation Zones they identify will contribute, with other Marine Protected Areas (MPA), to an ecologically coherent MPA network. The Regional Stakeholder Groups submit their draft recommendations to an independent Scientific Advisory Panel for feedback.

Each Regional Project team works with the Regional Stakeholder Groups to prepare an Impact Assessment that will set out the anticipated costs and benefits of the proposed network of sites and identify the environmental, social and economic implications.
The four Regional MCZ Projects in England will submit their recommendations to Natural England and JNCC by 31 August 2011. Providing these recommendations meet the scientific guidelines set, they will be submitted unchanged to Ministers. In the event that they do not meet the guidelines, Natural England and JNCC will also provide their advice to Ministers. On receiving the recommendations, Ministers will consider how well they meet, and are consistent with, the relevant statutory considerations, national policy objectives, the advice of the independent Science Advisory Panel, the conservation agencies, and the UK’s international commitments.


Planning meeting
Although not bound by the recommendations of the Regional Projects, Ministers will attach considerable weight to them, especially where recommendations are supported by stakeholders.
Where the recommendations from the Regional MCZ Projects are accepted, Ministers will draft designation orders, and carry out formal public consultation in accordance with section 119 of the Act. Formal public consultation is expected to take place in the summer of 2012. Ministers will consider objections and representations received before deciding whether to make a designation order.
The Ecological Network Guidance can be downloaded from the JNCC website:

MCZ Species and Habitats Information

Balanced Seas has also produced a summary document to assist stakeholders understand important information about species and habitats in planning Marine Conservation Zones.   See below to download the PDF document.

MCZ Habitats and Species Information
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