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Sussex seabed set to be leased from Queen to create marine park

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The seabed off the Sussex coast is set to be leased from the Queen as part of plans to create a large marine park and a haven for sealife.

The first-of-its-kind project will aim to help regenerate vital habitats, fight climate change and boost the economy.

The area was once home to a vast kelp forest, stretching across 172 square kilometres, but 90% of it has been lost in recent decades.

Worthing Council, in West Sussex, is one of those backing the scheme
Image: Worthing Council, in West Sussex, is one of those backing the scheme

Adur and Worthing councils in West Sussex are set to be the first in the UK to lease their seabed from the Queen, who owns the bottom of the sea to a distance of 12 nautical miles off the coast.

The move could also be the first step in an even bigger project: the creation of a Sussex Bay marine park stretching along the entire coast of East Sussex and West Sussex.

If fully restored, a kelp forest could capture carbon emissions equivalent to 66 million miles driven in a family diesel – or the carbon emissions of 7,235 homes, the councils say.

Adur District Council’s member for the environment, Emma Evans, 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.”

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Worthing Borough Council’s member for digital and environmental service described the move as a “potential game-changing project” that could help cut carbon emissions and restore habitats.

Edward Crouch added: “It shows that we have sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”

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Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.