The marine aggregate sector is dependent upon identifying and licensing economically viable sand and gravel deposits to secure sufficient reserves to maintain long term supply to existing and well established markets, as well as supporting other uses that may emerge in the future. Importantly, marine sand and gravel extraction can only take place where suitable resources occur, and the location of such deposits is extremely localised around the waters of England and Wales, restricted to their geological distribution and their geographical position relative to the markets location.
A long term view is essential to provide certainty and confidence to marine users, particularly where significant long term capital investment is required to undertake the activity in question. As an example of this the current replacement value for the British marine aggregate dredging fleet is >£1 billion. Vessels are expected to have a working life of 25 years and, with the average age of the British fleet being 20 years old, significant investment will be required in the next 5-10 years.
The Royal Assent of the Marine and Coastal Access Act in 2009 introduced a requirement to develop a process of marine planning in order to manage and balance the wide range of activities, resources and assets in the coastal and offshore area in a more holistic and integrated manner. This represents a step change away from the historic consent-led approach to marine management, whereby activities and uses were regulated on a sector-by-sector and project-by-project basis.
A robust, efficient and proportionate planning regime which provides a framework to enable delivery of a plan-led ‘licence to operate’ for all activities and operations is essential to support the wider sustainable development and management of UK waters. The confidence and certainty provided by the new planning regime should provide an essential backdrop to any long-term investment decisions.
BMAPA welcomes this development. It believes that the marine planning process represents an opportunity to define clear policy objectives for all legitimate marine activities and provide greater certainty for both current and future development. It should also ensure greater consistency in policy, planning, consenting and management of the marine environment.
All of our formal consultation responses to the various stages of the marine planning process can be viewed here: www.mineralproducts.org/con_other01.htm
To help inform the development of policy objectives for the marine aggregate sector, BMAPA has commissioned the British Geological Survey to produce a report which examines the strategic importance of the marine aggregate sector to the UK.
Click here to view British Geological Survey report
BMAPA is also a participant in the Seabed User and Developer Group (SUDG), an informal grouping of marine development industry sectors who have a common interest in sustainable development within the UK’s marine environment. Participants include the representative trade bodies for a range of UK industry sectors including oil and gas, renewable energy, ports, cables, recreation, carbon capture and storage and marine aggregates – the common link being that all require some form of licence or consent to operate.
The SUDG has been an active participant throughout the evolution of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, and is now closely involved in ensuring the successful implementation and delivery of its various components – including marine planning.
More information about the SUDG, including downloadable versions of the recent brochure and joint statement can be viewed at www.sudg.org.uk