At yesterday’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions, I asked the minister about protecting our marine environment.
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Vital marine habitats off Devon and Cornwall will be lost for ever because this Government are not implementing a fully ecologically coherent network of marine conservation zones or following the time scale laid down in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Will the Minister please think again and tell the Chancellor that the costs of inaction in the long run will be far greater than the costs of protecting our marine environment now?
Richard Benyon: The right hon. Gentleman is looking at marine conservation zones as if they are the only show in town. We have 42 special areas of conservation and 37 special protection areas around the English coast. About a quarter of our inshore waters are protected and we have more than 300 sites of special scientific interest in the intertidal zone. What we are trying to do with marine conservation zones is part of a much bigger picture of marine protection. We will be one of the leading countries in the world for marine conversation and the right hon. Gentleman should feel proud about that.