Plaid Cymru Gwynedd reveals devastating findings in new independent report on highly protected marine conservation zones in Gwynedd

03/07/2012

"ll-thought proposal with devastating side effects" 

At Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet meeting today (Tuesday 3 July 2012) Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Gareth Roberts revealed that an independent report commissioned by Gwynedd Cabinet found that the projected impact of creating Marine Conservation Zones along Gwynedd’s coastal shores could suggest a reduction of nearly £60 million to Gwynedd’s economy within marina, ports, the fishing industry and coastal tourism.  Nearly 2000 jobs could be lost to the county, a reduction of 3.79% employment lost within Gwynedd.  

“As these proposals by the Welsh Government stands, this would be a devastating blow to the Pen Llŷn economy,” Plaid Councillor Gareth Roberts explained.  He called on the Welsh Government to ensure a holistic approach is adopted, an “ecosystem approach”, to ensure an appropriate balance is found to benefit Gwynedd’s environment, economy and communities.  Plaid’s Environment Leader was responding to the Welsh Government’s consultation plans to create Marine Preservation Zones in four coastal areas within Gwynedd. 

Plaid’s Councillor Roberts explained: “Gwynedd Council and its partners, through the Community Strategy, are keen to sustain a natural environment which brings benefit to the local economy.  It wants to see the local economy flourishing.  Introducing preservation zones and the measures associated with them to Pen Llŷn is a cause of major concern to local fishermen, local communities and to Gwynedd as a whole.  The side effects of such plans could be devastating, wiping out people’s livelihood and centuries of marine traditions in these areas.” 

The Environment Portfolio Leader listed the main concerns of the proposals to introduce four out of 10 preservation zones acrossWalesin Gwynedd:

  • The designation and the measures associated with them currently are equivalent to an environmental experiment.  No-one knows what the environmental and socio-economic side-effects of stopping marine activities in these areas will be.
  • There is a real risk that there will be an adverse effect on coastal areas not part of these zones.  Marine activities will, inevitably, intensify outside the zones.
  • The environmental benefit is not proven.
  • The designation area ignores the fact that some marine activities which sustain the local economy have contributed to the protection of marine life and its environment for many years.
  • The new designation duplicates the designation of the Special Areas of Conservation already in place within Gwynedd’s coastline.
  • Managing any marine preservation zone could take resources away from the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and other existing international designations.  This would entail a further deterioration in the condition and status of important aspects of the SAC.

“It is clear,” concluded Plaid Councillor Roberts, “that improving the management of the Special Areas of Conservation is the most appropriate way to achieve the aim of clean seas.  Working with the local communities and supporting marine activities which are environmentally sustainable is, no doubt, the way forward.  This will be Gwynedd Council’s clear message to the Welsh Government, in our consultation response to this ill-thought proposal.”