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Fears of further erosion

PUBLISHED: 15:05 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:08 05 July 2010

Dredging for sand and gravel off the coast at Southwold could dramatically speed up erosion along the vulnerable coastline, campaigners have claimed.

The Anglian Offshore Dredging Association (AODA) is due to renew its licences to extract sand from the seabed off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast within the next six years and is already considering a new site out to sea near Southwold.

Dredging for sand and gravel off the coast at Southwold could dramatically speed up erosion along the vulnerable coastline, campaigners have claimed.

The Anglian Offshore Dredging Association (AODA) is due to renew its licences to extract sand from the seabed off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast within the next six years and is already considering a new site out to sea near Southwold.

AODA has not yet applied for a licence to dredge in the new area but is planning to renew its licences to work at 14 sites off Lowestoft and Yarmouth, some of which have been dredged for nearly 40 years.

Environmental pressure group Marinet, part of Friends of the Earth, has said an environmental assessment into the new area is being undertaken and a formal application for a licence is expected soon.

Pat Gowen, of Marinet and the North Sea Action Group, said: “This new area would be much nearer to the shoreline and much more localised damage would be caused to the area around Southwold much quicker than in the past.

“Dredging causes larger waves and speeds up erosion along our coast.”

He added that dredging makes the seabed steeper and weakens offshore sandbanks which otherwise would break up large waves.

Coastal-protection campaigner Peter Boggis, who has built his own sea defences at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, said: “The effects of dredging are not clearly understood. The government should adopt a precautionary principle and be sure the coast is properly protected before allowing any further dredging.

“It has been noted in Easton Bavents and Southwold that dredging has increased erosion in the area,” he said.

Robert Langman, AODA's co-ordinator, said that a full report examining issues around coastal erosion, fishing and navigation will be produced and circulated before any licence application is made.

An AODA spokesman said: “A new site would be aimed at either replacing an existing site or replacing one which in future becomes exhausted. Some of our licensed sites have enough aggregate left for two or three years but licence applications can take more than six years to be approved, so it is economically sensible to look ahead.”

AODA is holding a public information day about its licence applications at the Vice-Admiral Bar at Yarmouth Racecourse on September 26, with three 20-minute presentations at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm.


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