Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, welcomed today’s news that, following nearly two years of his campaigning, a new Marine Conservation Zone called Beachy Head East has been officially announced by the government.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today announced the creation of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones, marking the most significant expansion of England’s ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas to date. Stretching from Cornwall to Northumberland and including East Sussex, the new protections safeguard 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitat, an area almost eight times the size of Greater London.
Huw said “Today’s announcement of the new Beach Head East Marine Conservation Zone is really positive news for our area and will bring great benefits to our local beaches, marine life and our visitor economy. I have been lobbying the government to create the Beachy Head East Conservation Zone since 2017 along with the excellent Marine Conservation Society, and our local angling community. I am therefore delighted that the precious and unique marine life off our local beaches will now be protected.”
The Marine Conservation Zone for Beachy Head East is an area characterised by a sandstone and chalk reef system which is home to a wealth of marine wildlife. There are also blue mussel beds, including the ‘Bexhill Mussel Garden’ which is a fragile living reef and host to many marine species.
Alice Tebb from the Marine Conservation Society, who has worked extensively in the local area said: "I am delighted that Beachy Head East is now a Marine Conservation Zone. Along with Huw Merriman MP, over 1000 local people supported our campaign for this last year, and today's announcement is a testament to them. Now we need to get on and make sure that the site is well managed so that the precious marine wildlife can thrive along with our local community."
In photo from left to right: Peter Richardson (Head of Ocean Recovery, Marine Conservation Society), Tim MacPherson (Director of Angling Trust), Steve Hanks (local angler), Huw Merriman MP, Alice Tebb (Agents for Change Coordinator, Marine Conservation Society).