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SNP upset by new marine bill

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4 April, 2008

SCOTTISH environment secretary Richard Lochhead said he was “profoundly disappointed” yesterday (Thursday) after the publication of the UK Marine Bill, as it reserved offshore powers with Westminster.

Yesterday Mr Lochhead called for ministerial level discussions about “who rules Scotland’s seas”.

The Scottish Parliament has backed calls for powers over the marine environment from the 12 to the 200 mile limit to be devolved to join the authority Holyrood already has over fishing matters.

Mr Lochhead said: “We currently have a cluttered and complex marine management system in Scotland with far too many pieces of legislation regulating Scotland's waters.

"The Scottish Parliament has overwhelmingly united behind Scotland having more responsibilities over the marine environment. Reclaiming control over Scotland's seas will help safeguard their future and the future of the coastal communities who depend on them.

"I have always made it clear that the Scottish Government believes there should be further devolution of powers over the marine environment between 12 and 200 nautical miles from Scotland's shore.

"As it currently stands the UK Marine Bill does not take into account the distinctive marine environment of the seas around Scotland. It also presumes that powers for issues such as nature conservation and planning, while devolved to Scotland up to 12 nautical miles, will be reserved to Westminster in the off-shore zone. This is arbitrary and artificial and will diminish the extent to which Scottish Ministers can safeguard the future of Scotland's seas.

"Let me be clear that our desire is to work with the UK Government to achieve coherent marine policies across the EU and beyond. However I must also do what is right for Scotland.

"It is now up to the UK Government to reflect the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and sit down with us to work out the way forward."

Most recent update - Sunday, 03 August 2008 23:44
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