Coastal communities like ours are only too aware of the importance of our marine environment. Our relationship with the sea is vital – for food, for transport, for energy through offshore wind farms to our special flora, fauna, protected marine species and historic heritage.
Our marine activities contribute to carbon emissions, but they also have the opportunity, and obligation, to reduce them. That is why it was good to welcome to Dover the largest ferry on the Channel – the DFDS Côte d’Opale. The trials of the vessel were carried out in Dover and will replace the Calais Seaways on the Dover to Calais route. This beautiful new vessel cost over £100million to build. It is a huge investment by DFDS in the future of the Channel route, and is designed to be both highly efficient and environmentally friendly. It reduces fuel consumption by around a quarter in comparison to the current fleet, and can carry a lot more vehicles too. So it will be reducing carbon emissions, as well as bringing a quality new experience to those enjoying travel to France once again, for business or pleasure.
The Côte is a highlight in a number of business changes which will see our cross-Channel route become more environmentally sustainable. Road trials for hydrogen and electric powered zero-emission lorries are being piloted now, due to substantial Government funding.
Additionally England’s body responsible for the seas, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), has set out the Evidence Strategy 2021 -2025 that will help them respond to the new challenges that the marine environment might face. In line with the Government’s commitment to leave the world in a better place for the next generation , the MMO announced eight commitments. These included restoring nature as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, achieving the eight objectives in the Fisheries Act (2020) as well as Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030, protecting 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030 alongside implementing Highly Protected Marine Areas, implementing the ambitious Environment Act 2021 alongside responding to the biodiversity and climate emergencies. In short, the MMO strategy shows the UK’s commitment to build back greener is being converted into decisions to be made on the ground.
It is reassuring to see constant progress for our quality of life in the UK and marine welfare being placed at the forefront of decision making in Government. Over time I want us to go further. So that we give the same degree of protections to our extremely special marine protected areas such as the Goodwin Sands as we do to their land equivalents – the SSSI and AONB designations.
The scale of the investment and confidence shown in our green economy by businesses like DFDS, P&O and lorry maker Leyland DAF shows that we can be green and have economic growth. It isn’t one or the other. It can and should be both. A green future, and a more prosperous one too.