‘Milestone’ for dredging project

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Comprehensive information about the environmental impacts of dredging Falmouth Harbour has been issued to the Government’s marine licensing body.

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) has issued an updated ‘Habitats Regulations Assessment’ (HRA) to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

It will now be reviewed by the regulator as part of the pre-application process which will determine whether the application for a license to dredge will be renewed.

This submission is the culmination of nearly five years of work which included an innovative trial dredge. Based on the findings of the trial FHC is now asking the MMO to reconsider its previous decision of 2011.

Plans to dredge the harbour, to accommodate larger cruise vessels into the port, were first proposed back in 2004, but have so far been blocked due to environmental concerns.

Commenting on the milestone, Captain Mark Sansom, FHC’s chief executive and harbour master, said: “This is a tremendous achievement and the result of many years of hard work.

“The Commissioners and their partners have persevered with this huge undertaking as we firmly believe that the dredging of the channel is absolutely fundamental to ensuring the future prosperity of the port.

“We have thoroughly updated the information taking into account the concerns raised by the MMO and its statutory advisors. We also needed to consider the proposed designation of the area as a Special Protection Area for Birds together with the latest conservation advice for the Special Area of Conservation.

“This has taken considerable time and investment of resources but we are confident that having reviewed the results of the trial, and having taken independent advice, we have supplied the MMO with everything it needs to make its decision.”

The HRA information document was prepared by leading environmental consultant Royal HaskoningDHV. The document is available to view on the Commissioners’ website. www.falmouthharbour.co.uk.

There is also an appropriate assessment decision document that details the harbour authority’s conclusion that with the proposed mitigation, dredging of the channel would not adversely affect the integrity of the two designated conservation sites in Falmouth Harbour.

An application to dredge cannot be determined unless the MMO, which is the Competent Authority under the Habitats Regulations, also concludes that there is ‘no adverse affect on the integrity of the sites’. This decision is now eagerly awaited by FHC and their partners.