Future UK marine conservation zones could overlap with wind farms

UK: The UK's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has warned that new marine conservation zones (MCZs) could overlap with both current and future wind farms.

The UK's recently designated marine conservation zones

Defra is currently reviewing the potential for the creation of new MCZs. These areas are designed to conserve nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and land and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh inshore and UK offshore waters.

Following the review Defra expects a public consultation on the potential areas to start in early 2015.

On 21 November Defra designated 27 MCZ sites, which it confirmed are not near any offshore wind farms, after a public consultation that started in December 2012.

A Defra spokesperson said: "It is likely there will be sites in the vicinity of a wind farm.

"Before any MCZ is approved there is a lengthy consultation process, and this includes talking to wind farm developers to ensure any issues are resolved.

"Over the next three years we will be designating more marine conservation zones in areas that will balance environmental benefits with economic interests."

In 2009 the UK government’s environmental advisory bodies, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Natural England, gave sea users and interest groups the chance to recommend possible MCZs to the government.

In September 2011, 127 MCZs were recommended, covering approximately 15% of the Defra marine area, which encompasses English territorial waters and UK offshore waters adjacent to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.