Government response

Update on disposal of dredged material at Sprey Point, Devon

The Marine Management Organisation has provided information on the dredging of Exmouth Marina and disposal of materials at Sprey Point


The MMO granted a marine licence to Exmouth Marina in August 2017 for maintenance dredging of Exmouth Marina and disposal of materials at the Sprey Point disposal site. The dredging is due to take place in February 2018.

Information about the marine activities and licence documents are available online via the MMO’s public register (case reference MLA/2016/00372). The MMO is in the process of updating this with additional information requested by local residents.

Consultation on licence application

A public consultation on the application was held in November 2016. As part of this process views were also sought from the local planning and harbour authority which covers the marina, and the MMO’s primary advisors including Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Crown Estate and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. Trinity House were also consulted on navigational issues.

We resolved issues raised as part of the consultation process.

The public consultation process for marine licence applications is explained in further detail on the MMO’s blog.

Managing adverse impact on the marine area

The MMO is aware of the local concern about the potential impact on the marine environment after a pollution incident occurred following previous disposal activity in 2012, although there is no evidence which directly links the two events. Following full consideration of all information, including the responses from our primary and scientific advisors, we have applied additional licence conditions, in particular regarding tide working and seasonality to mitigate the risk of any material being washed ashore and impacting on bathing water quality.

Potential contamination arising as a result of the disposal activity was also addressed as part of the application process. The assessment, which was carried out in line with the OSPAR Guidelines, has shown that the material is suitable for disposal at sea.

The MMO’s coastal office will monitor and inspect the activity as appropriate to ensure that the licence conditions are adhered to and will work with other relevant agencies to look at any further concerns.

Disposal sites

It is up to applicants to nominate the disposal site as part of their marine licence application. The MMO then makes a decision based on the suitability of the material.

Where a marine licensable process involves any waste management activity then the provisions of the Waste Hierarchy of the Waste Framework Directive (WaFD) (Directive 2008/98/EC) directive have to be considered. Applicants are required to submit evidence that they have considered alternatives to disposal under all aspects of the Waster Hierarchy (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Recovery, and Disposal). However the MMO accepts that in some cases disposal at sea is appropriate.

Published 15 February 2018