Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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The future for marine protection in England - policy progress and next steps | implementing marine net gain and Highly Protected Marine Areas | supporting responsible and sustainable growth of marine industries

October 2023


Price: £150 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


This conference examined key priorities and next steps for marine protection in England.


Delegates discussed the current outlook for marine protection, establishing what is needed to achieve marine net gain, and the introduction of new Highly Protected Marine Areas, as well as implications, opportunities and challenges for expanding offshore industries.


It was an opportunity for stakeholders to examine progress and next steps for UK and international policies on enhancing marine protection, including:


  • the 25 Year Environment Plan and Environmental Improvement Plan - with marine environmental protection being a key element of the Government’s aims
  • Highly Protected Marine Areas - with the first three HPMAs secured to safeguard aquatic species and habitats, and further proposals from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in August
  • Principles of Marine Net Gain - Defra initiative aiming to put the marine environment into recovery, and embed environmental protection into infrastructure planning and delivery
  • the Global Biodiversity Framework - established at COP15 in December 2022
  • UN High Seas Treaty - agreed in March 2023

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Dr Jen Ashworth, Head of Domestic Marine Conservation, Defra; Joly MacLeod, Deputy Director for Domestic Marine, Marine & Fisheries, Defra; Natalie Prosser, Chief Executive Officer, Office for Environmental Protection; and Jonathan Burney, Director of Strategy and Government Advice, Natural England.


Overall, areas for discussion included:


  • assessing key issues and tensions surrounding marine protection, and what is needed going forward
  • the way forward for establishing a marine net gain agenda and setting out a nature first approach
  • next steps for enhancing nature recovery and biodiversity in the marine environment
  • opportunities to balance increased marine developments and infrastructure demands with nature recovery, and assessing key stakeholder needs
  • options for offshore industries to expand in line with growth ambitions whilst protecting the marine environment
  • long-term policy priorities for delivering marine net gain  
  • international policy developments on global marine protection

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DAERA, NI; DBT; Defra; Department for the Economy, NI; Department of Finance, NI; DESNZ; DfT; DLUHC; FCDO; GLD; GO-Science; HM Treasury; IEPAW; Isle of Man Government; MMO; MCA; NAO; OEP; ONS; Planning Inspectorate; UKIB; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament.



This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materials, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda