Adur and Worthing’s councils to rent Queen’s seabed
The landmark move could pave the way for a plan to create a Sussex Bay Marine Park along the entire county coast, east and west, to protect vital marine life, restore the estuary habitat and even create a destination for ecotourism.
Supporters of the program see it as the ‘blue mirror’ of the South Downs, with all the potential for environmental protection, tourism and potential jobs that could be created. The Crown Estate, which manages the land on behalf of the Queen, owns the coastal seabed off the coast of the United Kingdom at a distance of 12 nautical miles.
The Crown is now in talks with the councils to enter into a âseabed natural capital leaseâ that would allow authorities and their partners to create a âblue kelp carbon investment productâ. Government agencies such as the Environment Agency, water companies and other companies can invest in kelp forests to help them in their own efforts to become carbon neutral.
The inshore trawling regulations introduced by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority were approved earlier this year by the government after effective lobbying by the Help Our Kelp partnership led by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
This means that more than 300 square kilometers of seabed off the coast of Sussex will now be protected from trawling – a measure that should allow critical habitats, such as kelp forests, to regenerate.
Once established, the ecosystem should support sustainable coastal fishing with species such as bass, sole, black sea bream, lobster and cuttlefish thriving under these conditions.
Coastal kelp beds also help fight climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing coastal erosion by absorbing wave energy, and providing refuge for wildlife. If fully restored, a kelp forest off the Sussex coast could capture the carbon emissions equivalent to 7,235 homes.
Now the councils want to go further by creating a Sussex Bay trust to attract investment in kelp forest growth and marine habitat restoration. While the original Crown lease would likely cover Adur & Worthing’s seabed, it is possible that it will eventually cover the entire Sussex coastline.
Worthing Borough Council executive member for digital and environmental services Councilor Edward Crouch said: for a whole range of sustainable marine activities.
âI am proud that this council is part of this project to become the first in the UK to lease Crown seabed for this important environmental project. It shows that sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. ‘
Adur District Council executive member for the environment Councilor Emma Evans said: carbon and report that this region is serious about restoring natural beauty while helping the environment.
Last Tuesday, members of the Adur & Worthing Boards Joint Strategy Committee voted in favor of a contribution of Â£ 50,000 to help develop the rental program with additional external funding slated for the launch of Sussex Bay in September.