The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has investigated concerns from some Isle of Wight residents about dredging activity in the area.
Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, the MMO regulates development at sea around the English coast and as part of this is responsible for licensing dredging activity. It takes any dredging out of area or zone very seriously and may seek appropriate enforcement action against those found to be committing an offence.
Having received reports of suspected unlicensed dredging activity around the Isle of Wight, the MMO obtained data on the movements of aggregate dredging vessels in the area from the vessels’ on-board electronic monitoring system (EMS). The EMS is used to track all aggregate dredging vessels operating in English waters and also shows if a vessel is or is not dredging.
Following this investigation the MMO concluded that while dredging vessels sailed around and anchored off the Isle of Wight no unlicensed dredging activity took place in the area.
The MMO, along with its advisers, scrutinises every dredging application to ensure the impact of the activity on the environment is minimised.
Aggregate dredging is also subject to a programme of monitoring throughout the lifetime of the licence. As part of this, the MMO has the power to vary the terms of the dredging licence, suspend the licence while further information is being gathered or, in severe cases, revoke the licence.
Dredging Today Staff, September 17, 2012; Image: pevensey-bay.co.uk