A £11.6m funding boost from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been awarded to Plymouth to help deliver the UK’s first National Marine Park – a £22m transformation programme that will help empower and engage the city in the marine environment.

Unlike other National Parks, Plymouth’s amazing landscape is mostly under the sea, hidden from view, yet brimming with wildlife of international importance, outstanding maritime heritage, and over 600 shipwrecks.

The project will create the country’s first National Marine Park, revolutionising the way Plymouth interacts with its heritage, promoting a more harmonious relationship with the ocean and creating hundreds of jobs. The National Marine Park will encourage people to become ‘Marine Citizens’, developing closer connections with the ocean, learning to care about our coastal environment and change the way we behave in order to protect it.

This is the beginning of a movement – a first-of-its-kind opportunity for the development of National Marine Parks across the UK and it is being led by Plymouth.

Thanks to this funding from the Heritage Fund and their Heritage Horizon Award* programme, Plymouth’s National Marine Park is one step closer to coming a reality. This innovative project puts the restoration of nature and the city’s marine heritage at the heart of the project, engaging with all those living, working and studying in Plymouth. Through an exciting and diverse activity plan, Plymouth Sound National Marine Park aims to engage the entire city in its three-step journey to:

  • Engage and inspire;
  • Provide opportunities for learning and discovery;
  • Enable connection and positive action to support the long-term care of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “Yet again Plymouth’s trail blazing approach is leading the UK. As Britain’s Ocean City we have a unique opportunity to pioneer a new approach to protecting and restoring the amazing heritage of Plymouth Sound, transforming the lives of local residents.

“In developing the UK’s first National Marine Park we will create a blueprint for an innovative new model of National Marine Parks across our island nation – and this feels both vital and exciting.

“We are proud to lead as the first city to enjoy this incredible opportunity to innovate, protect and develop our connections to the sea.”

Taryn Nixon, Trustee and Chair of London and South for The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Today, we’re thrilled to announce £11.6 million investment into Plymouth, thanks to National Lottery players. This is a milestone moment for the city. Creating the UK’s first National Marine Park is truly visionary and this project will be transformative for the people of Plymouth and for nature. The sea has been at the heart of Plymouth’s identity defined for centuries and this project recognises that special and distinctive heritage. It is creating new connections with the sea for everyone, new opportunities for learning and jobs and new ways of protecting and caring for the extraordinarily precious natural resources of the Sound.

“This project is part of our Heritage Horizon Awards programme which focuses on transformation in heritage. It is pioneering the Heritage Fund’s ambition to support large-scale, long-term and innovative, heritage-based solutions to the major challenges we are face in climate change, nature recovery, the cost of living and our very wellbeing.”

A series of sensitive restoration projects across the citywide waterfront will enable greater accessibility to Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. These developments will open up new ‘gateways’ to the National Marine Park through previously inaccessible heritage sites, including the 17th century Mount Batten Tower and Garden Battery at Mount Edgcumbe, which has been closed to the public since World War 2.

Improvements to Mount Batten Peninsula will enhance dwell time and increase access to nature, whilst Tinside, Plymouth’s beloved Art-Deco Lido, will undergo transformational work to open up new spaces that can be enjoyed year-round.

Furthermore, a pioneering nature boost project will restore habitats and species including sea grass beds, mudflats and saltmarshes, oysters, mussels, little egrets, avocets thornback ray, seahorses, sand eels and the rare allis shad.

The ‘Digital Marine Park’ will bring to life the amazing heritage of Plymouth Sound – providing an inclusive and accessible online platform and open up the UK’s first National Marine Park to a global audience.

Elaine Hayes, Plymouth Sound National Marine Park CEO, added: “This programme has been designed to maximise the number of people accessing the National Marine Park’s incredible built and natural heritage, encouraging everyone to discover the treasures of Plymouth Sound and to enable communities to care for the National Marine Park.

“The Marine Citizenship Pathway will ensure that the communities of Plymouth can be active and engaged Marine Citizens. This will enable access to all the benefits that the National Marine Park can offer but will also be an integral part of restoring and protecting the world-class nature and landscape of the Sound.”

Roger Maslin, CEO of Ocean Conservation Trust, said: ‘’We are hugely proud to be a delivery partner of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. The impact the ocean has on the day-to-day lives of Plymouth’s residents has been visible for thousands of years.

“So, being the UK’s First National Marine Park is a pivotal next step in our city’s pioneering approach to the relationship between nature and people. The work of the OCT centres on connecting people with the ocean and having seen the impact that the National Marine Park has already had on local communities has been wonderful.

“We sincerely hope that this will be the first of many National Marine Parks around the UK’s coastline and are now thrilled to be embarking on the next exciting chapter of this journey’’.

The delivery of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park (PSNMP) is a once-in-a-lifetime transformational opportunity for Britain’s Ocean City, The National Lottery Heritage Fund  and the nation.

For more information, please visit: plymouthsoundnationalmarinepark.com