Like Dartmoor for the sea - Plymouth to have UK's first-ever National Marine Park

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Plymouth has been awarded £9.5million in National Lottery funding to help create the country's first National Marine Park.

Plymouth Sound will have improved facilities on the coastline and better access to watersports as part of the project, which will create hundreds of new jobs.

It is hoped the 'Park in the Sea' will promote the marine environment and its history for locals and visitors.

Caroline Dinenage MP, the Culture Minister, believes the investment in the maritime environment will help to draw people together in the city.

She said: "The waterfront and the maritime heritage is such a big part of Plymouth's history.

Caroline Dinenage MP believes the investment will draw communities together and enjoy the coastline Credit: ITV West Country

"It's so much of what has made this city so great, but so many people don't actually engage with it and that's why this is really important.

"It's about bringing communities together, getting people more involved in the water and the maritime aspect of the city and really getting a much greater cohesion of what this place has to offer and why it is so important in all our lives."

More than one in 10 children in Plymouth have never been to the beach and this project is designed to help reconnect the city with the sea and inspire people to explore what the Sound has to offer.

Cllr Nick Kelly says that the city will look forward to this park after enduring the pandemic's restrictions Credit: ITV West Country

Councillor Nick Kelly, the leader of Plymouth City Council, said large sections of the city’s population do not engage with the marine environment and hopes this project can change that.

He said: "It's not about the people that are currently using the water, on it, under it or beside it, it's to try to reach out to all those communities and people that perhaps don't understand what it can offer and aren't excited by it.

"We really want to listen to them, how they want to interact and how it will change their lives.

"We've all been cooped up with Covid and I think mental health has been an issue so all of a sudden to release that and have the funding to create something special, I can't stress how important it is for the city, it's going to be fab."

Part of the project's investment will go towards ocean conservation at the National Marine Aquarium Credit: ITV West Country

There will also be a focus on science and research, with a new 'Welcome Centre' at the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) which will focus on supporting a thousand species of fish and other marine animals supported in these waters.

The chief executive of the NMA, Roger Maslin, feels the project will help people feel more connected with the ocean and ultimately make efforts to look after it more.

He said: "If you want to get people to change, they've got to care about something and love something and this is exactly what this does.

"This enables people to get that ocean connection to build up those wonderful emotional experiences, care about it and then actually act and do something about it."