[Today] the Welsh Government released their draft for the first ever Wales National Marine Plan (WNMP). Although the draft plan sets a positive vision for our seas, some of its policies threaten to undo the Welsh Governments own commitments to nature and sustainable development.
Katie-jo Luxton, Director of RSPB Cymru said “We believe that the draft’s tidal lagoon policy is the worst example of this. The Welsh Government’s own assessment show that their tidal lagoon policy is extremely high risk for nature and could damage some of our most important wildlife sites, including over 50 protected sites for birds, yet the policy supports lagoons with very limited caveats. It is clear Wales needs to find renewable energy solutions, but this should not be to the detriment of the natural environment we depend on, and RSPB research shows that it doesn’t have to be.
“We know that biodiversity is declining and none of Wales’ ecosystems is resilient. If marine ecosystems are healthy they can provide benefits such as regulating climate and supporting productive fisheries, but if we continue to damage them we reduce their ability to do this. This is why the Well-being of Future Generations Act is clear that restoring healthy ecosystems is a goal of sustainable development, which this policy seems to overlook.
“Despite the Welsh Government talking a lot about mainstreaming nature into policy-making and looking for win-win scenarios, we are becoming increasingly worried that they are failing to apply the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and continue to prioritise development at the expense of nature. It is deeply worrying that the Marine Plan appears to fail to protect our biggest and most important coastal and marine wildlife sites. As one of the first plans published since the Act, we are shocked by this approach.”
The RSPB will be undertaking a detailed review of the plan to prepare our response to this consultation. We will be calling on the Welsh Government to consider alternative policies that align with Wales’s Well-being of Future Generations Act.