April 2005 Comments

HANSON AGGREGATES MARINE LTD ADMITS DREDGING HAS AN IMPACT.

In an interview on BBC Radio Norfolk's Today in Norfolk programme which took place on Tuesday 19th April whilst discussing marine aggregate dredging, coastal issues and coastal spokesman for Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd David Weeks admitted "We are not saying there is no impact and no effect, but what we are saying is we can control it and we can manage it"

Amazingly this was on the very day that the company staged an information day at Yarmouth Racecourse in support of their application for a licence extension to continue dredging for a further 15 years off Great Yarmouth.

Yet again I quote from the Eurosion study which, when advising on the management of coastal cells and erosion, states the following measures and management imperitive under the sub heading LESSON 6:

 THE COASTAL SEDIMENT CELL.

 1. maintain the total amount of sediment (in motion or dormant) 
    within the coastal system.

 2. when taking measures, try to work with natural processes 
    or leave natural processes as undisturbed as possible.

 3. If no other options available, use hard constructions to 
    keep sediments in its position.

Elsewhere in the same report under the simple heading DREDGING is the following:

  Dredging activities have intensified in the past 20 years for navigational purposes 
  (the need to keep the shipping routes at an appropriate water depth), construction 
  purposes (an increasing amount of construction aggregates comes from the seabed), and 
  since the 1990's for beach and underwater nourishment. Dredging may affect coastal 
  processes by a variety of way:

  (i)   by removing from the foreshore materials (stones, pebbles), which protect the 
        coast  against erosion. For instance, stone fishing in Hyllingebjerg-Liseleje 
        (Denmark) triggered structural erosion. By way of illustration, it is estimated 
        that 50% of the total volume of the protective pebbles (3 million cubic meters) 
        has been extracted from the chalk cliff of Normandy (France) since the early 1900's.

  (ii)  by contributing to the sediment deficit in the coastal sediment cell, such as 
        in the Humber estuary, the coast of Sussex (United Kingdom) for construction 
        purposes (extaction of sand, gravel and shingle), the Western Scheldt (Netherlands) 
        for navigational purposes, Cova do Vapor (Portugal) where sand has been dredged off
        the coast to supply materials for the beaches of Costa del Sol, or Marinell di 
        Sarzana and Marina di Ravenna - Lido Adriano (Italy) where dredging from riverbeds 
        took place.

  (iii) by modifying the water depth, which in turn results in wave refraction and change 
        of alongshore drift, as illustated by the Wadden Sea (Netherlands).

Has Elliot Morley and the ODPM been extremely economical with the truth? Are they prepared to say anything to protect what they see as a strategic industry? In the light of Hanson's admission will they continue to spin their yarns?

Finally I would say to everyone sit back and wait for the lame excuses, the justifications as to why the admission was a "mistake". To the politicians and civil servants (who run the whole coastal thing because, as demonstrated by Elliot Morley on numerous occasions not least on 8th of March, the vast majority of Ministers and MP's are absolutely clueless about it) I would say there is now absolutely no doubt about the effects of dredging on the littoral process so get your fingers out and do something about it.

Malcolm Kerby (22 April 2005)