Maerl relocation trial
Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) carried out a trial to inform the original proposal and specifically provide information on the susceptibility of maerl and associated communities to disturbance by dredging. Information on the original proposal can be found on the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) public register
The programme of works for the trial included:
- benthic (bottom of the sea) sampling of proposed trial sites before dredging
- dredge and re-laying of dead and live maerl communities – 5 sites of dead maerl and 1 site to have a covering of live maerl on the dead maerl)
- benthic sampling of proposed trial sites for up to 6 months after it has been re-layed
- turbidity monitoring at the surface during dredging – turbidity is a measure of the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particulates
The final sampling event to provide evidence for this trial was carried out between 30 July and 1 August 2013.
Data from the trial was analysed by scientists from Plymouth University and the final report on the trial was submitted to MMO on 30 January 2014. Further documents relating to the maerl relocation trial application are available via the MMO public register application number MLA/2012/00100. This includes a technical overview of the project.
The trial report was sent by MMO to the Independent Scientific Advisory Panel (ISAP). The ISAP was set up in 2012 to provide the MMO with independent scientific advice on:
- the scientific robustness of the trial methodology
- whether the methodology is fit to meet the overall purpose of the trial
- whether the methodology will provide credible conclusions
The ISAP only provided comments on the trial itself and not the wider impacts of the proposed project. The ISAP reviewed the scientific basis of the report, and submitted comments and recommendations to MMO on 7 March 2014. The ISAP concluded that the trial adequately demonstrated that the method used in removing and replacing the top 30cm of maerl habitat was technically feasible.
The MMO provided the ISAP’s comments to Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) with a covering letter on 24 March 2014. The maerl trial report can be used by FHC as part of the evidence to support any future application for the Falmouth Harbour proposal, but FHC must consider the comments of the ISAP if they decide to use this evidence. The letter also highlights the need for the application to reflect how the trial relates to a full scale dredge. The MMO’s letter of 24 March also referenced the MMO evironmental statement from November 2013 and an addendum from March 2014, both of which are also available on this page.
MMO’s letter to FHC on 24 March 2014 also identified next steps with regards to:
- updating the appropriate assessment
- updating the environmental impact assessment
- submitting new marine licence applications to MMO
We met with Falmouth Harbour Commissioners in March 2017 to discuss the conclusions of our draft ‘shadow’ Appropriate Assessment.
We have provided an informal view of the implications of the project on a sub-feature of the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC). We have given an informal view to assist and inform Falmouth Harbour Commissioners’ proposal. A further meeting has been arranged for early May as the Commissioners wish to question further some detail of the draft assessment. It is then for them to decide how they wish to proceed.
No new, formal marine licence application has been received from Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) and the MMO is not making any determination at this stage.
A number of meetings have taken place to discuss our pre-application advice. It will, however, remain for FHC to decide how they wish to proceed following these discussions.
Falmouth Harbour Commissioners and Falmouth Docks & Engineering Company applied for 3 licences to carry out harbour construction works, a dredge disposal and a maerl mitigation project.
The proposed development is located in the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC). During consultation, Natural England advised that the proposal would have a likely significant effect on the designated features of the European site. Therefore, under the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, an appropriate assessment was required to assess the proposed development’s impact on the conservation objectives of the European site.
Appropriate assessment (AA) conclusion
In light of the evidence provided to support the AA, we could not conclude that there would be no adverse effect on the integrity of the Fal and Helford SAC. Further information regarding the decion made by the MMO can be found in the letter to applicants dated 27 January 2011 and the Appropriate Assessement by the lead competent authority (the MMO) both of which are available on this page.
In late 2016 we provided an update explaining the nature of pre-application discussions with FHC.
We met with FHC in March 2017 to discuss the conclusions of our draft ‘shadow’ Assessment.
We provided an informal view of the implications of the project on a sub-feature of the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation to assist and inform FHCs project proposal. A further meeting was held in early May .
Following this, we jointly commissioned an independent consultant to provide an impartial review of both parties interpretation of case law relevant to any Habitats Regulation Assessment for the proposed project .
This process remains ongoing and the report has not yet been formally accepted .
Other supporting information
Original evidence supplied in support of application, submission and consultation responses and other relevant documents are also available on this page.
The non-technical summary, environmental statement, appendices and other associated documents are available from the Port of Falmouth Harbour Development Initiative
Marine Licensing Team
0300 123 1032