Last modified: 13 December 2012
The RSPB has responded to proposals unveiled today for the protection of England's coasts and seas.
Martin Harper, Conservation Director, said: 'The announcement by environment minister Richard Benyon today is hugely disappointing.
'These proposals risk selling short the huge numbers of people who have shown their support for the creation of a network of marine protected areas around our shores.
'A process intended to protect our seas through the establishment of a coherent network of marine conservation zones has drifted dramatically off course when measured against the scale and urgency of the threats they face.
'Of 127 sites proposed for protection, only 'up to' 31 are recommended for designation in 2013, and there appears to be no clear commitment to any further rounds of designation.
'Less than half of the 57 sites identified by the Government's own advisors as being at high risk are to be progressed, the others in many cases being excluded on the basis that the economic implications of designation are perceived to outweigh the conservation benefits. Many of these sites may therefore be lost.
'The coalition Government's commitment to achieve a ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas now looks undeliverable. The RSPB will now be examining the consultation in detail, including the lamentable attention given to the protection of seabirds and other 'mobile species'.'