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Broad Support for Falmouth Dredging Plans at Public Consultation

Kim Conchie, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce; Martin Attrill, Plymouth University, Captain Mark Sansom, FHC, Sian John, Royal HaskoningDHV, and Dave Ellis, FHC

Posted on June 2, 2016

Members of the public got behind plans to dredge a channel to Falmouth docks as Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) unveiled proposals for an innovative way of potentially preventing environmental harm on Wednesday.

The commissioners were at The Poly for most of the day for a public consultation at which they showed their latest plans to dredge the harbour by lifting the top layer of the sea bed, which they claim means work can take place without too much damage to the marine life which calls the area home.

Around 70 people visited during the day to view the plans and talk to the commissioners, marine consultants, and researchers from Plymouth University, about an environmental study which was submitted to the government’s marine licensing body – the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) – in early May. And another 50 were at an evening question and answer session.

The commissioners have now given the MMO their conclusion, backed by marine consultants Royal Haskoning DHV and the university’s marine institute, that with the proposed mitigation, dredging of the channel would not adversely affect two designated conservation sites in Falmouth Harbour.

Most of those turning up to the consultation were supportive of the plans. Mark Sansom the harbour master and chief executive of the FHC, said: “We have been very pleased with the turn out and it has demonstrated how much the community is interested in this project.

“Everyone I have spoken to has been positive about it. That’s not to say that everyone who’s been here has been.”

Harbour commissioner Tony Tomlinson added: “On the whole we have had good discussions with people, even if they had a view that differed from ours.”

The plans including slicing off the top layer of the seabed and keeping it in a barge for 12 hours to preserve the dead maerl matrix – a layer of calcified seaweed that provides an important habitat for marine wildlife including young fish and young shellfish.

Professor Martin Attrill of Plymouth University said trial dredges at specific sites had shown not only that the maerl beds could recover, but that although around 50 per cent of the marine organisms disappeared during the dredge they had recovered within 46 weeks.

Mr Sansom said: “We think we have given the MMO all the information they will need to make a decision.

“I would like to think that the detail that we’ve looked at, all the potential impacts, leads us to be optimistic about what they might conclude.”

Falmouth resident Paul Gadsby said he was “all for it.” He said: “It will benefit Falmouth, bringing down those cruise ships will help everybody around.

“And of course it will open us up more to the world as well… it will keep us on the map.”

Margaret Kerr and Berry Storey have been diving in the waters of the Fal for 35 years. Margaret said: “I’m all for it. You can’t stand still, you have to move if you want to maintain jobs.”

She added: “We have dived over the maerl beds and seen them regenerate themselves nicely.”

If FHC does get approval for the dredge from the MMO, it will still need to be paid for, and that is why The Packet has set up the Pledge to Dredge campaign to make sure Cornwall Council is gets behind the project.

Add your name to the petition by going to .

Source: thePacket

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