Marine Management Organisation duties in relation to Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) and marine licensing
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Section 126 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA) (2009) places specific duties on the MMO relating to Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and marine licence decision making. This is because s.126 applies where;
- (a) a public authority has the function of determining an application (whenever made) for authorisation of the doing of an act, and
(b) the act is capable of affecting (other than insignificantly) -
- (i) the protected features of an MCZ;
- (ii) any ecological or geomorphological process on which the conservation of any protected feature of an MCZ is (wholly or in part) dependent.
In determining how to apply s.126 in undertaking its marine licensing function, the MMO is introducing a new MCZ assessment process that will be integrated into existing marine licence decision making procedures. This will apply to all new marine licence applications with immediate effect and is relevant to MCZs proposed by Defra (together with their proposed features and proposed conservation objectives) until the point of designation. From the point of designation it is the designated MCZs (together with features and conservation objectives) which will be relevant.
MCZ sites and features identified as possible candidates for designation in future tranches will be NOT be subject to the MCZ assessment process. However, the MMO will consider the evidence base associated with those sites in its decision making.
The assessment process also addresses the general duties placed on the MMO in s.125 of the MCAA with respect to furthering the conservation objectives of MCZs.