The Trustees of the Mersea Harbour Protection Trust are pleased to advise you we have now finally received the consents for the Mersea Recharge Project from the Marine Management Organisation.
The Mersea Harbour Protection Trust was established four years ago by a group of unpaid volunteers of local oystermen, fishermen, sailors and waterfront interests with great support from the RSPB, local County Councillors and MP’s, to try and prevent the rapid erosion to the outer harbour saltmarsh and mudflats that protect the area.
As these protecting mudflats and saltmarshes are washed away by the tides and waves then Mersea Harbour will cease to exist within 70 years. The erosion is only going to get worse as the impacts of rising sea levels and increased storminess accelerates this problem.
This is not only devastating news for harbour users but also for all the wildlife that make these quiet waters their home in summer and winter.
The preferred method is to import by ship 98K cubic metres (about 170k tonnes) of gravel and sand that would be dredged up as part of navigation improvements to the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe, programmed between 2019 and 2024.
It has taken three years of on site surveys, investigations, meetings with coastal authorities and specialist report writing to FINALLY have all the consents in place. This has cost some £85k, money raised from local contributions, donations from other charities, the Environment Agency and Essex County Council with support from Mersea County Councillor John Jowers. But we now have all the permissions.
Recently The Climate Coalition, a group of 150 organisations dedicated to action against climate change has recognised this project and invited Mark Dixon to attend the House of Commons to receive a National award, which can only help with actually getting the new beaches built.
We still have to raise £352k to actually do the work, which will tie in with Harwich Haven Authority’s programme for their navigation improvement. £300k of this is for supply and delivery of the material, a massive saving estimated at £400k if we had had to get the material without this partnership. And £52k will be needed for monitoring the impacts of the new off shore beaches to meet the consent and regulation requirements.
The East Anglian Regional Flood Committee of the Environment Agency have offered to support the project with funding the recharge. We are now working with them to write the Business Case to ensure that such National public funding is worthwhile for the Government and taxpayer to fix not only a local problem but also its duties to protect internationally important wetlands. We will keep you informed of progress.
As it is a while since we were in touch you might well be wondering where we have got to with the Mersea Recharge project. So here is an update.
The good news is that we have been promised, subject to National economic guidelines, the necessary funding for the recharge by the Environment Agency Regional Flood Committee. Estimated to be around £340,000 this would cover Harwich Harbour charges for supply and delivery of the material, construction of brushwood fencing, ongoing monitoring and maintenance.
The bad news is that we still await approval from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to carry out the recharge. We submitted a very thorough Environment Statement (155 page plus 6 appendices) with our application on 21st September 2016 which they advised us should be dealt within 13 weeks. However, following a number of delays due to MMO personnel changes and unnecessary work, and despite frequent chasing, they did not send it out in for consultation to involved bodies such as Natural England, Historic England and local authorities until March 2017.
‘Some of these regulatory authorities responded with specific concerns to which we have now responded in the form of a Supplementary Response. These include
- the potential for the proposal to create noise and dust pollution;
- the potential for the work to damage heritage or archaeological features, including previously unidentified archaeological remains – this references the recent finds at East Mersea (over 6km from the recharge site) which came to light after submission of the licence application;
- potential damage to listed “wrecks” –described as: ‘stranded wreck – condition unknown’ and the ‘remnants of a small wooden boat’.
- additional information on the sediment size of the recharge material;
- impacts on commercial fishing activities; and
- ‘mitigation to ensure access to vessels, vehicles, moorings and landings will be maintained’.
We have indicated where concerns raised by the regulators are already covered in the information provided in the Environmental Statement; the relevant sections being referenced in our response. Nevertheless MMO have concluded that our response to the regulator comments is ‘further information’ and will therefore need to undergo further public consultation. This follows the same process as the earlier public consultation for the Environmental Statement, requiring a six-week window for feedback. The MMO received no representations from the public during the consultation for the Environmental Statement.’
Our application is now unlikely to be concluded before the end of 2017. However Harwich Harbour have now deferred their dredge programme, which will provide material for the recharge. This is now unlikely to happen before 2022, so fortunately there is no urgency in obtaining MMO approval.
You can view the complete Environmental Statement and the Supplementary Response to queries raised by consultees, advisers and MMO at downloads section of this website or at West Mersea Public Library from 30th Sept.
We look forward to advising you of more positive news in due course.
May we take this opportunity to thank you for your continued interest and support.
I have now submitted our Annual Accounts and Trustees Report to the Charity Commission – see below:
Accounts & Trustees Report to 30th Oct 2016
The AGM was held on the 24th April, to read the Minutes please click on the link below.
Minutes of AGM 24.4.17
At the AGM held at WMYC on Monday 24th, the Trust was pleased to announce that following our presentation to at a meeting of the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood & Coastal Committee on Friday 21st April the Committee approved our request for funding the total costs of the proposed Recharge and follow up activities such as monitoring and maintenance totalling around £340,000.
Our submission of the Environmental Statement and application for consents was submitted to the Marine Management Organisation in November. They have put it out for consultation to interested parties such as Natural England, Historic England and local authorities as well as the public. The consultation period is now finished and the MMO have provided us with an initial summary of responses received which are basically very favourable, but still require a few answers, which will not present a problem. We therefore expect a final response in the next few weeks, and will advise you
However we still have to negotiate the supply and delivery of the material from Harwich Harbour Authority although they have now indicated that, owing to current conditions in global shipping markets, their dredging programme is likely to be deferred until possibly 2022-23. There is still a lot of work for us to do in preparation for the Recharge but we are confident that we will be ready when the time comes.
WE SHALL SAVE OUR HARBOUR
The Mersea Harbour Protection Trust has now applied to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for consent for the proposed recharge under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 (as amended). This public notification is to enable members of the public to comment direct to the MMO.
A hard copy of the Environmental Statement has been placed in West Mersea Library, but some of the Appendices may be easier to view here. The public consultation dates run from 3 March 2017 for 42 days ie until 13 April 2017. If you support the recharge project or would like to make representation known, then The Mersea Harbour Protection Trust would appreciate your comments direct to the MMO through this public notification process.
Representations in respect of the application should ordinarily be made by visiting the MMO public register and accessing the make a comment section of case reference MLA/2016/00386. By email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter addressed to Marine Management Organisation, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 7YH. In all cases, correspondence must be received by the 13th April 2017. You must also quote the case reference, MLA/2016/00386 and include an address to which correspondence relating to the representation or objection may be sent.