We've been at the London Boat Show this past week with a stand all about our Albatross campaign and the work we're doing to convince the government of the need for a Marine Bill.
We're enjoying some success in saving the 19 species of albatross currently struggling to survive. We're not making as much progress with the Marine Bill. Despite cross-party support, we're still waiting for Gordon Brown to deliver on the promises made in Labour's election manifesto.
Then, hey presto! The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform announces the government's committing to offshore wind energy, big time. This is very welcome news and will help the UK on its way towards the EU target of sourcing 20% of our energy sustainably by 2020. To help them on their way to achieving this, we'll need some formal rules to sort out what goes where... oh, doesn't that sound like a Marine Bill?
The RSPB is all for wind energy. As long as it's the right turbine in the right place. You wouldn't expect a turbine to be put in the middle lane of the Marylebone Road now would you? There are rules and regulations on land to ensure development doesn't ride roughshod over everything else, and a similar form of governance is exactly what we're asking the government to introduce in our sea-lanes, along our coastline and in those areas important for marine wildlife.
As usual, the RSPB isn't just heckling from the sidelines. We've been talking with energy suppliers, developers, coastal communities and other concerned groups. We have set some of our excellent scientists the task of carrying out lots of techy research. As a result we've started to create maps that could show where windfarms can safely be built without threatening bird migration routes, marine feeding areas, shipping lanes or other important areas of the marine environment. It's very much work in progress but if only the government would help us with this task, the job would smooth the waves, as it were, to ensure the rollout of offshore wind farms is all plain sailing!
So, does this newly announced government commitment to wind power herald the blinking on of a light bulb in some dim part of Westminster hitherto unaware of the raucous shouts for a Marine Bill? I sincerely hope so, for who would really want a development free-for-all at sea. Where there is no control, history has repeatedly shown that humankind is the loser, although nature and wildlife often pay the price. No government would surely want to go down in history as steering in to a storm when it's within their power to calm the waters ahead, would they?
It's enough to spur me in to writing to Gordon Brown and my MP to put their skates on, instead of eating them with a squeeze of lemon. To commit themselves heart and sole, be single minded of porpoise, get with the current thinking and stop quivering like a jellyfish on the issue. Introduce a Marine Bill, NOW!
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