News story

Update on marine licence: disposal of dredged material at Sprey Point

The MMO has provided a further update on its work looking into concerns about Teignmouth beach.

teignmouth beach

The MMO is continuing to look into concerns about Teignmouth beach and the disposal of material dredged from Exmouth Marina at the Sprey Point disposal site.

The Sprey Point disposal site lies off Teignmouth Beach and concerns were raised by users of the beach that black-silt like material was being washed ashore following disposal of material dredged from Exmouth Marina. The material from Exmouth Marina was previously analysed for a range of contaminants, in accordance with OSPAR requirements. This showed that the sediment was uncontaminated and suitable for disposal at sea.

In response to concerns, and as a responsible marine manager, on 26 February the MMO announced it had suspended the marine licence for dredging at Exmouth Marina and subsequent disposal activities at Sprey Point while it investigated the source of the material seen on Teignmouth Beach. This suspension remains in place whilst the MMO is continuing its investigations.

The MMO’s investigation into the issues raised was affected by last week’s severe weather and related weather warnings in place. However, officers from the MMO and the Environment Agency have inspected the beach and MMO is carrying out a further visit this week. The MMO has mobilised our scientific and technical advisors at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), to analyse any material we find on the beach that appears to have been disposed at the Sprey Point disposal site. The MMO has also asked Cefas to carry out modelling relating to use of the Sprey Point disposal site with the aim of better understanding likely pathways for sediment transport from the disposal site to the beach.

No disposal activity as part of this licence has taken place at the Sprey Point site since week commencing 19 February. The suspension of the Exmouth Marina marine licence will stay in place until we have concluded our investigations. The MMO is also aware of reports of a number of marine animals being washed ashore over the past week. This has been seen elsewhere in the country and we do not believe is related to the dredging and disposal activities of this marine licence.

Correspondence and requests for information will be responded to in line with the service standards published on the MMO’s website and related legal frameworks for requesting information.

The MMO does not expect to have any further updates this week. Any new developments will be announced via the MMO website.

Published 6 March 2018