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Research on dredging

PUBLISHED: 12:19 07 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 05 July 2010

The effects of dredging off the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts on fishing and coastal erosion are to be examined by a major year-long scientific study.

The Anglian Offshore Dredging Association (AODA) is due to renew its licenses to extract sand from the seabed around the East Anglian coast within the next six years.

The effects of dredging off the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts on fishing and coastal erosion are to be examined by a major year-long scientific study.

The Anglian Offshore Dredging Association (AODA) is due to renew its licenses to extract sand from the seabed around the East Anglian coast within the next six years.

Now the association, which represents five of the UK's largest dredging companies, is going to undertake a series of environmental studies over the next 12 months to look at the effects of dredging on the environment, including offshore wind farms, fishing, navigation and erosion.

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.

Some of the existing sites have been dredged for nearly 40 years, and AODA is currently considering applying to extract material from a new site out to sea near Southwold, but the results of the environmental study will be examined before any decision about the new site is made.

Opponents have said that if a licence is granted by the Crown Estate for the new site off Southwold, the dredging area could be increased tenfold and have significant effects on the area's coastline, but AODA claims that only a few zones within the area would be used at any time.

The study is supported by the Marine and Fisheries Agency but some local fishermen have raised concerns that the new scoping area off Southwold includes spawning grounds for skate and sole.

Robert Langman, AODA's coordinator, said that the environment impact assessment for the East Anglian coastline has just started. He said: “Although each individual environmental impact assessment has considered all the regional impacts in the past, this is the first time the potential impacts of offshore dredging and the cumulative impacts it may have with other sea users have been studied at a regional level in this area.

“We hope our pro-active approach will help manage this workload for the regulator, its advisors, stakeholders and the industry and will ensure that all issues are addressed in a robust manner.”

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