British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) part of the Mineral Products Association (MPA)


british marine aggregate
producers association


Key facts

Marine aggregate dredging affects considerably less than 1 per cent of the UK’s marine area – yet provides around 20 per cent of the sand and gravel we need in England and Wales. The industry’s output is equivalent to approximately 50 quarries which would otherwise be needed on land. The fact that dredgers can deliver close to the heart of urban areas or direct to coast protection and beach replenishment projects removes many thousands of lorry journeys from our roads. Here, we quote some of the key facts and figures about marine aggregate dredging.

Key facts:

  • The industry operates 27 purpose built marine aggregate dredgers with a total replacement value of >£1 billion.
  • The industry directly employs some 640 staff, around 500 of which crew the fleet of aggregate dredgers.
  • Marine sand and gravel is dredged from 70 production licence areas located off the coast of England and Wales.
  • Marine sand and gravel is delivered to specialised marine aggregate wharves in 35 ports around England and Wales for use by the construction industry.
  • Marine sand and gravel is also delivered to wharves in 17 ports on mainland Europe, where it is used by the construction industry.
  • Large volumes of marine sand and gravel are increasingly being used for coast protection purposes, through beach nourishment.
  • Large volumes of marine sand and gravel are also being used as contract fill material in support of major infrastructure developments, such as ports and airports.
  • A typical dredger will deliver the equivalent of 250, 20-tonne lorry loads.
  • Dredgers deliver into major urban areas or direct to beach replenishment projects.
  • Over 18,000 tonnes (900 lorry loads) of marine aggregate is delivered every day of the year to Thameside wharves.

Key statistics: (All figures shown relate to 2010)

Area of UK seabed 867,000 km2 100% of seabed
Area of seabed licensed for dredging 1,291km2 0.15% of seabed
Area available to be worked 552km2 0.09% of seabed
43% of area licensed
Area dredged 105.37km2 0.014% of seabed
8.27% of area licensed
18.98% of area available to be worked
Total marine aggregate production 15.95 million tonnes  
Total landings in England and Wales 9.94 million tonnes  
Total landings in Continental Europe 5.19 million tonnes  
Contract fill and beach nourishment 0.86 million tonnes  


Aggregate market in Britain

Total construction aggregate market 206mt 100%
Land-based aggregates 148mt 71.8%
Marine aggregates 9.94mt 4.8%
Recycled and secondary aggregates 58mt 28.2%


Sand and gravel market in Britain

Total market 55mt 100%
Land quarries 45.06mt 81.9%
Marine aggregates (landings for construction in England and Wales)) 9.94mt 18.1%
Marine contribution to South East 2.43mt 24.4%
Marine contribution to London and Thames corridor 5.38mt 54.1%
Marine contribution to South Wales (sand) 0.61mt 6.1%


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