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.