New marine aggregate dredging licence in Bristol Channel

News - July 4, 2008

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MARINET reports that the marine aggregate companies Hanson Marine and Cemex UK Marine have obtained a new licence to extract up to 1.5 million tonnes over 10 years from Area 472, Culver Sands, which lies on the median line separating England and Wales, approximately 8 miles south of Barry and 8 miles north of Minehead.

Culver Sands is a sand bank completely covered by seawater at all times at a depth no greater than 20 metres, which means that it fits the descriptive criteria of the Annex I habitat listed in the EU Habitats Directive.

However Culver Sands has never been forwarded by the UK Government to Brussels for listing under the Habitats Directive, and therefore does not currently enjoy such legal protection.

During the EIA procedure in the licencing application, this potential Annex I status was drawn to the attention of the UK Government.

However, the applicant advised the UK Government and its conservation agencies that it only wished to excavate a section of Culver Sand that is separated from the main sandbank, and the applicant's consultants advised the UK Government that there is no interchange of sand between this small separate sandbank and the main sandbank, and therefore the main sandbank's integrity would remain unaffected by aggregate dredging.

MARINET also reports that it objected to the granting of this licence, and has argued that there is no real evidence to substantiate the belief that there is no exchange of sand between the small and main sandbanks.

For further details, see: ww.marinet.org.uk/mad/objection.html#472

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