On Monday 4th September 2023, Luke Pollard MP (Labour, Plymouth Sutton and Davenport) hosted a parliamentary drop-in event in Westminster with Blue Marine Foundation, Campaign for National Parks and the Local Government Association. All political parties were asked to make a commitment to National Marine Parks a part of their General Election manifesto.
The drop-in event was attended by MPs, Peers and civil servants from the three main parties. This included Abena Oppong-Asare MP (Labour, Erith and Thamesmead), Daniel Zeichner MP (Labour, Cambridge), Barry Gardiner MP (Labour, Brent North), Christina Rees MP (Independent, Neath) and Ruth Jones MP (Labour, Newport West) with whom we discussed the Severn Sea. Sally-Ann Hart MP (Con, Hastings and Rye) participated in her capacity as Chair of the Coastal Communities All Party Parliamentary Group. Flick Drummond MP (Con, Meon Valley) and Selaine Saxby MP (Con, North Devon) also participated.
The Liberal Democrat’s Richard Foord MP (Tiverton and Honiton) dropped-in to discuss opportunities across Devon and later flagged the event at their Defra cluster. Peer Lord Lucas, John Spellar (Labour, Warley) and Danielle Rooke from the Defra 30×30 team participated in lively and engaging discussions, with much enthusiasm for the idea and how to progress it. Suggestions included preparing a five-year plan towards achieving National Marine Plans, follow-up letters to all parties, further engagement with DEFRA and the Governments statutory advisory bodies, plus requesting NMPs are put forward for an EFRA Committee enquiry.
The three partners involved in bringing the NMP vision to Parliament will be working together on future advocacy and funding plans. Their ‘asks’ of all political parties are to:
1. Pursue the vision for National Marine Parks around Britain
2. Support communities to acquire voluntary NMP status
3. Support the concept of National Parks in the sea
Their overall manifesto ask for the next general election is to explore routes to realise National Marine Parks across Britain. The Scottish Government are already consulting on locations for new National Parks and hoping at least one will include a coastal/marine area. Blue Marine is offering guidance to Scottish coastal communities interested in submitting an expression of interest.
Fourteen partners have signed up to a National Framework for National Marine Parks which defines the purpose, a definition, objectives and principles. Guidance has also been released to guide facilitators in different locations across Britain through ten steps to achieve this new status.
From left to right: Luke Pollard MP, Aisling McGarrigle (Blue Marine Foundation), Gary Charlton (Natural England), Tom Appleby (Blue Marine Legal Advisor), Martin Attrill (NMP National Strategic Working Group Chair/Plymouth University), Charles Clover (Blue Marine Foundation co-founder), Natasha Bradshaw (NMP Researcher), Rose O’Neill (Campaign for National Parks CEO), Beccy McDonald-Lofts (LGA Coastal SIG), Joe Richards (Blue Marine Foundation – Scotland Project Manager), Marina Windsor (Blue Marine Foundation).
Selaine Saxby MP (Con, North Devon) with Luke Pollard MP (host).
Barry Gardiner MP (Labour, Brent North) with Natasha Bradshaw, National Marine Parks Researcher
Martin Attrill (NMP National Strategic Working Group Chair/Plymouth University), Abena Oppong-Asare MP (Labour, Erith and Thamesmead) with Charles Clover (Blue Marine Foundation co-founder) .