Sussex councils to lease seabed from the Queen

Sussex councils to lease seabed from the Queen

The restoration of the kelp forest could also bring in funds, with companies and public bodies keen to invest in carbon capture projects to meet net zero targets.

Kelp forests are important habitats which can also improve water quality and mitigate coastal erosion by reducing the force of the waves.

They have been damaged by fishing methods which involve dragging nets along the seabed. In March trawling was banned in an area covering more than 100 square miles in an effort to help the kelp recover.

Angus Dunn, deputy leader of Adur District Council, said a regenerated kelp forest could be “absolutely massive” for the environment.

“The majority of the kelp forest went in ’87 in the great storm, which washed most of it up onto the beach.

“That, with a change in fishing methods, meant that the kelp wasn’t able to regenerate and so it is pretty bare out there.

“We’d like to regrow that. The benefits of the kelp forest are huge – not only does it protect the coastline, it provides a habitat for spawning fish and growing fish, and of course the carbon.

“Its ability to store carbon dioxide is huge, apparently 20 times greater per acre than a forest,” he said.

Councillor Edward Crouch, Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for digital and environmental services, said: “This is a potential game-changing project which would help us cut carbon emissions, restore beautiful marine and estuarine habitats and perhaps even to create Sussex Bay as a destination for a whole host of sustainable marine activities.

“I am proud that this council is part of this project to become the first in the UK to lease the seabed from the Crown for this important environmental project. It shows that we have sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”

Councillor Emma Evans, Adur District Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “We have a bold vision and that is to see the waters off our coast and our estuaries teeming with marine life again, growing kelp that will capture tonnes of climate-warming carbon and signal that this area is serious about wanting to restore natural beauty while helping the environment.”

The Queen owns the seabed around the UK to a distance of 12 nautical miles away from the average low water point.

The Crown estate has previously leased offshore areas to wind farm projects and also granted seabed rights for the testing and demonstration of wave and tide-powered energy.

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