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This petition is closed
Liz Truss: Allow appeals against UK Marine Licenses.

Liz Truss: Allow appeals against UK Marine Licenses.

This petition is closed
96 have signed. Let's get to  500
96 Supporters

Ms V A M.
started this petition to
Liz Truss, UK Secretary of State for Environment


Marine Licensing is the process for getting planning permission to dig, dump or build something at sea.

In 2010, the UK Department for Environment (DEFRA) delegated its responsibility for marine licensing to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

However, in an unusual move, DEFRA has now admitted that it gave the MMO too much power, because communities were given no right to challenge MMO decisions.

DEFRA has now issued draft proposals to add some democracy into the marine licensing process, but only for large projects, and only if the sites are within 6 nautical miles of shore. Only Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) would get the power to request Public Inquiries.

We all need to show our support for these proposals, as the big dredging companies are probably lobbying to get them watered down. However, the proposals don’t go far enough.

Please respond to the consultation before February 25th. Send a personalised email to: [email protected]

Points you might make include:

  • The proposals are encouraging, but don’t go far enough.
  • There should be an automatic Public Inquiry into any potentially harmful activity proposed within a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).
  • Referral to Public Inquiry should be allowed for all cases which may pose an unreasonable danger to the environment.
  • Distance from shore should not stop a contentious case from being allowed to go to public inquiry.
  • Anyone should be allowed to request a Public Inquiry, not just local authorities.

Background: Since 2010, the MMO has granted Licenses for many huge offshore dredging sites, without taking much notice of objections from coastal communities or evidence of potential harm to the environment.

Coastal erosion: The various dredging sites off Norfolk take 3,000,000 tonnes of seabed from EACH site EACH year. Communities aren’t allowed to ask for public inquiries to prove whether this is making erosion worse, making their homes drop into the sea faster.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ): This would be an ideal opportunity for DEFRA to give better legal protection for these fragile areas, yet there is no mention of MCZ’s in the proposals.

Marine Conservation Zones are designated so as to give them some legal protection from harm, usually because of their special and often unique habitat. Very few areas have been designated as MCZs. When they are, it is because they are vulnerable and their special features need legal protection from harm.

A pre-application for dredging within a MCZ is currently being considered by the MMO. There is already dredging right next to this MCZ, which is a prime black bream spawning ground. No potentially damaging activities should be allowed in a MCZ without a rigorous independent examination into the implications. This can only be achieved by a full Public Inquiry.

Distance from shore: DEFRA’s proposals limit the ability to ask for a Public Inquiry, to sites within 6 nautical miles of shore. There would still be no right of appeal for sites further out, however significant the proposed works.

Planning authorities only! DEFRA’s proposals would only allow Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) to challenge the MMO's licensing decisions. This is too restrictive. Anyone who can show sufficient grounds for concern should be allowed to request a Public Inquiry.

The consultation documents are available at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/fisheries/mlr-cases-for-sos-determination