BPA: No new restrictions on dredging without credible evidence

The British Ports Association has written to the UK Parliament Environment, Food & Rural Affairs select committee to express concerns over the Committee’s recommendations on dredging.


Last month the Committee wrote to Ministers with a series of recommendations including reviews of dredging activity, reviews of licence conditions, the ‘minimising’ of dredging until investigations are complete, and new dredging assessments. In their response, the Minister defended the current process for issuing dredge disposal licenses.

The BPA strongly welcomes the Government’s response and is calling on Defra to continue to defend the robust procedures already in place to assess and approve hundreds of dredge disposal licences, the company said in the statement.

The Committee’s recommendations has been based upon the idea that there are two competing theories to explain the cause of the mortality event, one put forward by regulators and another by a marine scientist commissioned by the local fishing industry. The latter concludes that dredging activity may have had an impact.

The company continued that having reviewed a copy of the paper, which has not been formally published, the BPA is concerned that recommendations that could have far-reaching consequences for the ports industry are being made based on its conclusions. The BPA does not believe the conclusions reached in the paper are credible or even reflective of the results found by the researcher. The results in the paper suggest that over 5,000 dredge disposal events would have had to occur in a single day to have the impact stated in the report. The paper also contains a number of factual errors.

The BPA’s letter to the Committee offers to provide additional evidence on the importance of dredging to the UK economy and on its environmental impact.

The Committee has been taking evidence on the sealife mortality event off the coast of north-east England last year, although it has not opened a formal inquiry. The Committee held two sessions in November, hearing from a panel of Government experts followed by a marine scientist.