"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
That is the message to the residents of Plymouth as the city's bid to roll out the UK's first-ever National Marine Park is about to be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for approval.
And wow! What a journey it has been over the last four years with 10,000 people spoken to, 7,000 school children inspired, one UN Ambassador (Lewis Pugh – in case you’re wondering) and millions more engaged and excited online.
The impact the delivery of the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park will make cannot be underestimated. Its creation will lead to opportunities for residents and visitors to reconnect with and explore the ocean in exciting new ways, boosting the city’s credentials both economically and environmentally.
Working alongside residents and the wider community is key to changing the way a city interacts with its environment; to care for, protect it and use it in different ways to develop a healthier and more harmonious relationship with the ocean.
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "The Plymouth Sound National Marine Park would still be a pie in the sky, but for the support and enthusiasm of the great Plymouth public and I'm so grateful to each and every resident who has engaged with us as we've put this bid together.
"A great debt of gratitude is owed to so many people for studious work that has gone into making this plan a potential reality.
"I think it shows the best of Plymouth - great minds and great organisations coming together with an idea and building it in to something that will make the city that we love an even better place to live and work."
Councillor Andy Lugger, Leader of the Opposition, added: "I am so pleased to see the bid submitted and echo the thanks to residents for supporting us on the journey so far.
"Plymouth's association with the sea goes back to the very first settlers who arrived here in the Bronze Age so to be on the verge of delivering the UK's very first National Marine Park is so very exciting. My family originates from Turnchapel, so I am sure my ancestors would have been proud of the initiative."
If the bid is successful, an innovative five year plan will be rolled out designed to maximise the number of people accessing PSNMP amazing heritage.
With a bumper offering of events and programmes design to educate, engage and inspire, it is hoped that everyone, of all ages and backgrounds, will be able to discover the treasures of the Sound and for community’s to be enabled to care for the Park.
Alongside this, exciting plans and investments in the Park's surrounding buildings and structures will be realised with improvements to iconic Tinside Lido, a makeover for the Mount Batten Peninsula and the restoration of parts of the Mount Edgcumbe estate in the plans.
Meanwhile, digital technology will be an essential part of bringing the wonders of the marine park to life, enabling everyone to experience the treasures below the waves for themselves, without getting wet!
Nicola Bridge, Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement at the Ocean Conservation Trust, said: "We are delighted to be part of the delivery phase of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park and look forward to bringing our education programmes to a wide and diverse audience."
Alex King, Chief Operating Officer of Mount Batten Centre Charity, added: "The designs to transform Mount Batten Peninsula will improve accessibility to the water, opening up the area to a wider and diverse audience enabling them to interact with nature and heritage."
Rhys Jones, Chief Operating Officer of Plymouth Active Leisure, commented: "Tinside is such a special location, we can’t wait for the delivery phase, opening up new ways for the people of Plymouth to engage with this iconic destination."
A decision on approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund is expected before Christmas and if successful the project will begin in the new year.
About the NMP
The National Marine Park covers an area of 6,357 hectares and includes the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries MPA. It stretches out to sea between Rame Head and Gara Point in Wembury Bay, covering the Sound and stretching to the entrance of the Cattewater, Lopwell on the River Tavy, Gunnislake on the River Tamar, and up to Landrake and Tideford on the Rivers Lynher and Tidd.
It is home to a wide range of habitats and species, many of which are special, rare and protected. For more information about the NMP visit: plymouthsoundnationalmarinepark.com and about the protected habitats and species visit www.plymouth-mpa.uk