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).
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
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
respond to the consultation before February 25th. Send a
personalised email to: [email protected]
Points you might make include:
proposals are encouraging, but don’t go far enough.
should be an automatic Public Inquiry into any potentially harmful activity
proposed within a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).
to Public Inquiry should be allowed for all cases which may pose an
unreasonable danger to the environment.
from shore should not stop a contentious case from being allowed to go to
should be allowed to request a Public Inquiry, not just local authorities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
consultation documents are available at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/fisheries/mlr-cases-for-sos-determination