The Wash and North Norfolk Coast is a rich and varied wildlife area, accommodating national and internationally important assemblages of migratory, breeding and non-breeding bird species. In addition, shipping and tourism support the economic growth of the area and effective management is required to ensure sustainable use.
In 1996, recognising its importance for wildlife, The Wash and North Norfolk Coast was designated a Special Area of Conservation and a European Marine Site (EMS) under UK and European law. This designation placed strong responsibility on public authorities and agencies to work closely with local advisory groups, organisations and individuals. Following several years of discussion the management scheme project was launched in 2002.
The Wash and North Norfolk EMS management scheme project provides a secretariat for the partnership, and a vehicle for initiatives that do not neatly fall to one statutory body. The secretariat co-ordinates the stakeholder network and implementation of the annual management plan; whilst reporting on progress to the partnership.
Partners include: Boston Borough Council, East Lindsey District Council, Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation, Environment Agency, Fenland District Council, Internal Drainage Boards, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, King’s Lynn Conservancy Board, Lincolnshire County Council, Marine Management Organisation, Ministry of Defence, Natural England, Norfolk County Council, North Norfolk District Council, Port of Boston, Port of Fosdyke, South Holland District Council, and Wells Harbour Commissioners.
The aim of the project is to safeguard the marine wildlife and habitats designated under EU and UK law in the Wash and on the North Norfolk Coast by promoting sustainable economic use. This will ultimately help to meet the statutory obligations placed on the various authorities to achieve favourable condition of designated features.
The management scheme acts as a framework, providing information on the initiatives already in place for managing the conservation value of the site. Its role is to ensure management measures are sufficient to meet the conservation goals and to highlight gaps where additional management might be required. The management scheme merely facilitates management works carried out by the existing organisations and initiatives operating around the site. The intention is to allow the management of the site to evolve to reflect current conditions and initiatives; this means the management scheme will need to be updated regularly.
Natural England reports on the condition of certain features within the EMS every six years. The most recent (2010) report shows that approximately 75% of these features are in the required favourable condition. This status is reported to UK Government and the EU. In 2010 87% of actions and new initiatives were on track.
The Incident Recording Process (IRP) is a pivotal project run by the management scheme since 2004. An incident is recorded by site managers or volunteers where human activities damage or could have damaged habitats or species within the site. For example, repeated low flying aircraft disturbing flocks of birds, or unauthorised barbeques with the potential to set fire to marram grass on dunes. The reporting of human disturbance to sensitive features has proved valuable in providing information on disturbance hot spots, and enabling actions to be put in place to remedy them.