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Campaigners voice fears over dredging

PUBLISHED: 13:45 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:41 06 July 2010

CAMPAIGNERS have urged a council to reconsider scientific evidence before backing plans for dredging off the Suffolk coast.

United Marine Dredging and Cemex UK Marine applied to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last year for permission to continue dredging an area about 20 miles off Southwold, where they have operated for 12 years.

CAMPAIGNERS have urged a council to reconsider scientific evidence before backing plans for dredging off the Suffolk coast.

United Marine Dredging and Cemex UK Marine applied to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last year for permission to continue dredging an area about 20 miles off Southwold, where they have operated for 12 years.

Now Suffolk County Council's officers have recommended that the authority backs the renewal application because they do not think that continued dredging will have a significant impact on the area.

Currently 14 licences are being dredged between Caister and Lowestoft, from four miles out to about 20 miles offshore, providing about eight million tonnes of raw construction material every year.

The county council's development control committee will discuss its response to a consultation about the Southwold application at a meeting on September 3.

A report to the meeting said that an environmental statement compiled by the applicants shows that there is no link between aggregate dredging and adverse effects on coastal erosion or fish stocks.

However coastal campaigners have already lodged a formal objection to the renewal application because they believe dredging can speed up erosion and damage fish stocks.

Pat Gowen from Marinet, part of Friends of the Earth, said: “There is scientific evidence which recognises the damage done by dredging, and the council should take that on board.

“We have several grounds for objecting, as we think the further removal of aggregate offshore will increase the slope of the beaches, leading to greater gravitational run-off of sand and deeper water leans bigger waves, which lead to more erosion.”

The council's recommendation also specifies that a programme of coastal impact assessments must be carried out to monitor any effects on the local coastline.

The Anglian Offshore Dredging Association, which represents five of the UK's largest dredging companies, is already undertaking a 12-month study to look at the effects of dredging on fishing and erosion around the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

A final decision on the renewal application will be made by the Marine and Fisheries Agency at a later date.

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