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Doubt cast on report about dredging

PUBLISHED: 10:03 16 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:29 05 July 2010

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have told dredgers they will regard a new study as "invalid" unless they take on board their demands for fresh, long-term research into the effects of dredging on the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline.

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have told dredgers they will regard a new study as “invalid” unless they take on board their demands for fresh, long-term research into the effects of dredging on the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline.

Members of Marinet, the marine branch of Friends of the Earth, have made their position clear to AODA, which represents five major dredging companies. As well as applying to renew its licences to extract sand and gravel from offshore sites between Caister and Lowestoft, it is seeking permission to use a new site off the Southwold coast.

As part of its applications, AODA (Anglian Offshore Dredging Association) will produce a report on the completion of a year-long regional environmental assessment (REA) into the effects of dredging.

But campaigners believe a three or four-year study looking at the movement of sediment would be needed to produce meaningful results on the potential impact on coastal erosion.

Marinet member Pat Gowen said: “We want genuine evidence, specifically on sand movement - where it's going to and from. We know Scroby Sands has diminished enormously. We have lost a lot of material off our coast. We always did but never at the rate we are seeing now. It has gone up by a factor of about 20 since dredging started.”

He said he had not had a response to letters sent to the study leader.

Mr Gowen said: “If not, we would regard it as a report of invalidity.”

Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson confirmed he was in contact AODA, but said he was unable to make a judgement until the conclusions were published. He said: “It is vital that the investigation into the impact of offshore dredging on erosion of the Suffolk/Norfolk coastline is carried out thoroughly before any decision is taken to renew AODA's licences.”

AODA declined to comment.

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