The UK’s first National Marine Park has been awarded £9.5 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to make its vision of a park in the sea a reality.
The bid, led by Plymouth City Council, with support from people and organisations across the city and surrounding Plymouth Sound, was successful in its application to the Heritage Horizon Awards.
The University is a partner in the project, which aims to reconnect the city with the sea, the marine environment and its history. Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS, Director of the Marine Institute at the University, said:
“For well over a century, the remarkable natural resource of Plymouth Sound has attracted marine scientists from all over the world. What is particularly exciting about this funding is that it will allow us to work together across the city to develop projects that connect the land and sea as a system, and convey that sense of wonder to a wider audience, particularly those who live in the city. There are amazing opportunities through science, health and the arts – literally, an ocean of potential.”
The Marine Park will look to improve the physical and social infrastructure surrounding the Sound, and use technology to engage people with it. The funding bid, which had cross-party support from the City Council, builds on this, and outlines five ‘gateways’ to the park, each with a particular focus to try to inspire more people to explore, connect with and enjoy the sea. They are:
- Tinside – for health and wellbeing activities
- National Marine Aquarium – a hub for nature and the environment
- Mount Batten – active recreation
- Mount Edgcumbe – heritage – learning about the Sound’s epic history including over 600 wrecks that lie beneath the waves
- Smart Sound – harnessing the power of the latest digital technology
Leader of Plymouth City Council Nick Kelly said:
“This is truly a game changer for Plymouth. For too long, Plymouth hasn’t fully embraced the sea and its waterfront – this funding means we can now put the Sound right at the heart of our plans for Plymouth. We are in a unique position, within a unique landscape – fantastic wildlife, an historic waterfront, rich maritime heritage and cutting edge marine research, but we need to look after this special place. We need people from all walks of life to get in it, on it, talk about it and as a city cherish the Sound for future generations.”
It is estimated the grant will support the development of 20 new ‘blue’ enterprises and create 464 jobs. There will be a two-year development period, before chosen ideas will be taken forward over a five-year delivery plan. Among those ideas being considered are innovation labs, a marine observation post, a ‘hidden treasures of the Sound’ project, and the development of digital park apps.
Roger Maslin, Ocean Conservation Trust and National Marine Aquarium CEO says
“We are delighted to hear the news that Plymouth Sound National Marine Park has received National Lottery Heritage Fund support. Our conservation work is centred around people taking positive action, so we look forward to helping as many people as possible experience and connect with the Ocean here in Plymouth.”
Marine Research Plymouth
Collectively hosting the largest number of marine scientists in any UK city – and the greatest number of undergraduate and postgraduate marine students anywhere in the country – the partnership aims to cement the city’s place as the UK’s go-to location for marine and ocean science.
Marine Research Plymouth will encourage joint investment in research appointments and support the sharing of capabilities, equipment and facilities. It will also ensure Plymouth is even better-placed to attract further funding for initiatives that can advance knowledge and understanding of the oceans.