On 8 November 2013 Westminster Dredging Company Limited applied for a marine licence to dredge the approaches to and berths and basins within HM Naval Base Devonport to maintain the navigational depths. The application also sought consent to dispose of the material to sea at the Rame Head South disposal site.
On 26 November 2013 public notices were placed in local newspapers inviting representations about the application to be made before 7 January 2014. More than 80 representations were received by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). These representations raised various issues including concerns over the potential impacts of the disposal on the Whitsand and Looe Bay Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). Some also suggested alternative disposal locations.
MMO consulted statutory bodies as part of assessing the application. These included:
- Natural England
- Environment Agency
- Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
- local planning authority
An official written warning letter was sent on 30 April 2014 following a breach of marine licence conditions.
MMO considered the application in light of the representations received and the responses of the statutory bodies. MMO is satisfied that the potential environmental impacts associated with the activities were suitably addressed and issued a marine licence.
Maintenance dredging protocol
A maintenance dredging protocol baseline document has been agreed for the Tamar Estuary. This provides useful information on recent dredging activities there, and the effects arising from the dredging.
Marine Conservation Zones
On 21 November 2013, 27 MCZs were designated in UK waters to conserve the diversity of nationally rare, threatened and representative habitats and species. Marine conservation zones must be considered when deciding a marine licence application and MMO will consider the conservation objectives of each zone and any potential effects from proposed activities.
MMO considered the potential effects of the proposed dredging and disposal activities on the nearby Tamar Estuary MCZ and Whitsand and Looe Bay MCZ. MMO concluded that the proposed activities are not capable of significantly affecting the protected features of either MCZ, or any ecological or geomorphological process on which the conservation of any protected feature of the MCZ is dependent.
2010 review of the Rame Head disposal site
In 2010, MMO carried out a review of the Rame Head disposal site. This followed an earlier review by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in 2005.
This review considered a large amount of published and unpublished evidence and consulted widely with various stakeholders. It concluded that the disposal activities are both legally and environmentally acceptable.
All marine licence applications are available from the marine licensing public register
Marine Licensing Team
0300 123 1032