The MMO granted a marine licence in August 2017 for maintenance dredging of Exmouth Marina and disposal of materials at the Sprey Point disposal site. The Sprey Point disposal site lies off Teignmouth Beach.
Dredging began in late February 2018 and concerns were raised by users of the beach that black-silt like material was being washed ashore following the disposal of dredged material.
The MMO provided an update on 15 February in which it addressed a number of issues raised by local residents. This includes an explanation about choice of disposal sites. It also explains that testing of material was carried out prior to disposal as part of the application process. This was carried out in line with the OSPAR guidelines. This showed that the material is safe for disposal at sea in line with international conventions.
On 26 February 2018 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.
On 6 March 2018 the MMO clarified that the suspension of the marine licence remains in place while it continues its investigations and provided further information, including that we have mobilised our scientific and technical advisors at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (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.
A number of site visits were undertaken at Teignmouth Beach. In late February 2018, the Environment Agency attended the beach following reports of pollution and the MMO undertook further site visits on 27 February and 5 March. Neither organisation observed significant discoloration and it appeared that minimal black material was on the beach following storm events. We received no further evidence to indicate additional material has been washed up and clean-up activities were not deemed necessary.
Suspension of licence
On 9 March 2018 the MMO extended the suspension of the marine licence to 14 June 2018. A copy of the suspension notice is published on this page. In addition, a condition of the original marine licence is that dredging does not take place between 1 June and 31 August in any year. This means activity cannot take place while the licence is suspended and/or during this period.
The suspension was subsequently extended to 30 September 2018, 18 January 2019 and 19 April 2019. The suspension notice is published on this page.
Application for variation of licence
In early 2019 the MMO began processing a request to vary the marine licence. There are a number of mitigating measures proposed in the variation request including:
• to reduce the amount of sediment being disposed, by almost 65%
• that material will be disposed of at the seaward limit of the disposal site
• that activities will only take place between 1 October and 31 January
• other technical measures
An Environmental Report has also been produced on behalf of the applicant to support the variation request, which includes modelling information relating to sediment disposal at the Sprey point site.
A public consultation on the variation request took place until 4 March 2019. This has been advertised near the site of both the dredging and disposal activities.
In addition the MMO is also consulting a number of external organisations including Natural England, The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Environment Agency, CEFAS, The Crown Estate, Historic England, The Royal Yachting Association, Trinity House, Devon and Severn IFCA, the RSPB, ABP Teignmouth Harbour Authority, Exe Harbour Authority (Exeter County Council), local Councils and planning authorities.
MMO update 4 September 2019
After further consideration of the impacts associated with the disposal of material from Exmouth Marina to Sprey Point disposal site, the MMO has maintained the suspension of the licence which now remains suspended until 31 December 2019.
The MMO has continued to work with the applicant and its agents on possible solutions and will review and assess any future proposed variations once submitted.
At this time the MMO has not issued a varied licence to allow disposal of material from Exmouth Marina and the submission of future variations remains with the applicant.
Extension of licence suspension until 30 April 2020
On 16 December 2019 the MMO wrote to the applicant to inform them the suspension of the licence would be extended to 30 April 2020.
Application for a marine licence variation
In December 2019 the applicant at Exmouth Marina withdrew the above variation request and submitted a revised variation which requests the following:
- Licence start and end dates varied to Jan 2020 – Jan 2030.
- Decrease dredge quantities to a total of 40,000 m3 over 10 years with a maximum of 8,000 m3 in any one year.
- Disposal site varied to Lyme Bay 2 PO050.
- Schedule 2 (update disposal site and location to Lyme Bay 2 PO050).
- Disposal quantities varied to 35,000 dry tonnes/50,000 wet tonnes total quantity over 10 years with a maximum of 7,000 dry tonnes/10,000 wet tonnes in any one year.
- Activity 2.1 Description varied to “The dredged material will be loaded into a hopper barge taken to Lyme Bay 2 (PO050) and disposed of.”
- Removal of condition 5.2.2 “Between 15 May and 31 May and 1 September to 30 December inclusive of any year, dredging must take place immediately prior to an ebb tide. Reason: To allow for immediate dispersion of material in Lyme Bay and to avoid the Bathing Water Season.”
- Vary Condition 5.2.3 to “The marina entrance must be sealed with a silt curtain before the dredging starts and removed no less than 30 minutes after the dredging has finished.”
- Removal of Condition 5.2.4 “Disposal at Sprey Point disposal site must not be on the fastest / strongest 2 hours of the ebb tide flowing east to west. Reason: To avoid damaging the protected wreck Church Rocks located to the west of Sprey Point disposal site.”
- Vary Condition 5.2.5 to “During the course of each disposal, material must be distributed as evenly as possible over the disposal site PO050.”
- Vary Condition 5.2.8 to “No more than 50,000 tonnes of wet weight (up to a maximum of 10,000 tonnes wet weight in any one year) is disposed of at PO050 (Lyme Bay 2).”
The MMO will be undertaking a consultation on the proposed variation to ensure all statutory consultees have been consulted on both the variation and the re-opening of Lyme Bay 2 disposal site.
Supporting documents for this variation, can be viewed on the public register under the case code MLA/2016/00372/2.
The MMO will accept and review any evidence received. This can be submitted via the public register, under the reference MLA/2016/00372/2.
MMO Update 10 September 2020
Opening of Lyme Bay 2 PO050 Dredged Material Disposal Site
On 10 September 2020, the MMO completed its evaluation of the re-opening of the Lyme Bay 2 disposal site (PO050), following review of the Site Characterisation Report provided by the applicant at Exmouth Marina. The MMO’s Evaluation Report can be found on this Selected Cases page.
As part of its consideration of the proposed new disposal site, the MMO undertook a consultation exercise and a total of 20 consultee responses and 5 public representations were received. During pre-application consultation carried out by Exmouth Marina, an additional 8 representations were received, and these were provided to the MMO.
An assessment of the environmental and socio-economic impacts has been conducted and the MMO concludes that it is appropriate to re-open the PO050 disposal site. Any future applications to use PO050 will, however, be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will include in-combination and cumulative assessments.
Variation to Marine Licence
Following the opening of the Lyme Bay 2 disposal site, the MMO has now varied the Exmouth Marina licence L/2017/00034/3, which licences the navigational maintenance dredging in the marina and disposal of dredged material.
The variation has changed the disposal site from Sprey Point (PO070) to Lyme Bay 2 (PO050), reduced the volume of material to be dredged and disposed, and adjusted timings for when activities can take place. Full details of the consideration of the variation request can be seen in the MMO’s Decision Document, which can be found on this Selected Cases page.
The MMO has now determined the application and a copy of the licence and the supporting assessments can be found on the MMO public register under the reference MLA/2016/00372/2.