TWO leading aggregate suppliers have expressed an interest in dredging at a site within the Kingmere marine conservation zone.
While no formal application has been made, Lafarge Tarmac and CEMEX have jointly carried out environmental assessments and held meetings with the site’s stakeholders.
A spokesperson for Lafarge Tarmac said: “We are consulting with stakeholders, including Sussex IFCA, Natural England and local fishermen, before we decide on the next steps.
“We always carry out thorough environmental assessments to help us understand and minimise any potential impacts. As such, we’ve voluntarily committed not to dredge during the key black bream spawning season from April to June, should a licence be ultimately granted by the Marine Management Organisation.”
Tim Macpherson, director of the Sussex Angling Trust Sussex Marine Region, has been present at consultations and was ‘extremely impressed’ with the thoroughness of the two companies’ analysis.
He said his initial concerns surrounded the impact dredging would have on the black bream and the effect the debris ‘plume’ from the extraction would have on the reef.
He said: “We are quite relaxed about this because if they are not doing it in the breeding season, that’s excellent, and for the rest of the year when they are dredging it would appear there doesn’t seem to be a significant spoil that will affect the reef.”
He said one model presented to the stakeholders showed the effect of the maximum amount of dredging using the companies’ biggest boats to be ‘minute’.
“I was inclined to believe what they were telling us. The scientist with them is also an angler and a conservationist.
“They took the care to invite us to meetings and they were very helpful and clearly concerned their activities might be damaging to the environment.
“The dredging operation is a big thing for Shoreham. It’s an economic driver. It would be ridiculous for us to say you have got to stop dredging completely.
“However, we would prefer they didn’t do it in the Kingmere marine conservation zone.”
Meanwhile, Bill Brook, director of Bright and Newhaven Fish Sales, said: “It will be churlish for the Government to say on one hand you can extract an aggregate of sand over a ten-year period but you can’t catch fish.”
We are reassured that if they are not dredging in the breeding season and their analysis is correct we don’t have any issue.