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.