Marine conservation sites set for coast

Three marine conservation sites could be set up off the east coast, it emerged today.

SUFFOLK: Three marine conservation sites could be set up off the east coast, it emerged today.

Talks started this week about creating 12 new sites throughout the UK aimed at protecting important habitats such as sandbanks and reefs as well as animals and birds.

In the east, the sites would stretch from the Wash to the Thames Estuary.

The most northerly site would be an offshore development in the Outer Wash at Inner Dowsing to protect sandbanks and reefs.

Next to the east Norfolk coast at Hapisburgh, Hammond and Winterton, another offshore site has been planned also to protect sandbanks.

And a larger site, consisting of a string of three areas off the coast at Caister-on-Sea to Woodbridge, an area near Lowestoft and the outer part of the estuary east of a line north from Sheerness in Kent to Shoeburyness in Essex, is also planned.

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This area supports almost 40 per cent of the country's red-throated diver population with more than 6,000 of the birds visiting during winter.

The site proposals are being discussed by Natural England, the Joint Nature Conservation and the Countryside Council for Wales.

Shaun Thomas, Natural England's East of England regional director, said: “This is a vital way of ensuring that our most important marine habitats and bird species are effectively protected.

“The consultation on the proposed new sites will create significant opportunities to promote understanding of our precious marine undersea landscapes.”

The consultation is due to run until February next year. Following that, site proposals will be submitted to the government and ministers will decide which site recommendations to submit to the European Commission in August 2010.

Do you support the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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