A small-scale dredging trial in Falmouth harbour to measure the potential environmental impacts of relocating maerl habitat is set to go ahead this month after Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) awarded the work to a specialist dredging contractor.
The contract has been awarded to GPS Marine, based in Chatham, Kent, following an open tender process and it is hoped work will be undertaken in the week commencing September 17th. The trial is expected to take six months to complete.
FHC was granted marine consent to carry out the trial in July and invitations to tender were issued to companies who expressed an interest in the work earlier this year. The procedure was supervised by Cornwall Council to ensure full compliance with the public procurement process.
The cost of the trial is expected to exceed £200,000, which is being funded jointly by FHC and Cornwall Council. Cornwall Council is contributing towards the cost of the trial in order to ensure the environmental impacts of re-locating dead maerl habitat, which is proposed as a mitigation measure in the dredging consent application, are fully evaluated and understood.
The trial licence was granted by the Marine Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the trial will be carried out independently by Plymouth University’s Marine Institute.
The trial results are expected to form important evidence in the decision making process by the MMO on whether to allow the dredging of a deep water channel into the docks. The deep water channel proposals by the Port of Falmouth Development Initiative are aimed at safeguarding Falmouth’s future as a thriving working port and opening up new business opportunities.
Mark Sansom, Falmouth Harbour Master, said: “We are pleased to have awarded the contract and that the process is moving forward. This is an important step towards providing more evidence for consideration by the MMO in reaching a decision on the proposals for dredging a deep water channel into the docks.”
The Port of Falmouth Development Initiative was formed in 2008 to prepare and progress proposals for the development of the port, particularly focussed on proposals for the Docks area. The initiative includes representatives from Cornwall Council, Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, A&P Falmouth, Pendennis Shipyard, Falmouth Petroleum Ltd and Cornwall Development Company.
James Cross, Chief Executive of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) said: “We have agreed to the trial as it will provide information on the extent to which maerl and its associated communities survive and recover from translocation.
“The methodology has been reviewed and supported by an independent scientific advisory panel, which has been established to advise the MMO on the scientific robustness of the trial.
“We will review information from the trial, and other further evidence, to inform future licensing decisions on the Port of Falmouth development.”
Press Release, September 5, 2012