The Recharge is at last going to happen in September

To our Members and Stakeholders,

The Mersea Harbour Protection Trust is pleased to announce that the Recharge is, at last, going to happen in September.

We obtained a licence from the Marine Management Organisation to carry out the work. We obtained the finance from the Environment Agency to pay for the delivery of the material and have an agreement from Harwich Harbour Authority to make available up to 170,000 tonnes of sand and gravel from a major capital dredge of the deep water approaches to Felixstowe. As that dredge is now about to start, the Mersea Recharge can proceed.  It has taken 7 years and £70,000.

HHA have appointed a joint venture between leading Dutch marine contractors Boskalis and Van Oord to carry out the work. For the Mersea Recharge, they will be using specialist dredger “Sospan Dau”   which will be bringing up to 1500 tonnes to Mersea on every tide and delivering it on the first of the ebb.

We have been able to get this far with the support of our members and RSPB as well as generosity from Essex County Council, Essex Community Foundation, Colchester and West Mersea Councils, Mersea Moorings and other organisations and individuals. We offer very sincere thanks to you all for your support, generosity and patience.

Richard Taylor

Trustee – The Mersea Harbour Protection Trust

June 2020 Update

Under normal circumstances, we would be sending out a Notice of General Meeting. However since such gatherings are not currently permitted, the Trustees have decided to cancel the Annual General Meeting for the year to October 2019 as permitted by the Charity Commission. Please see the Accounts and Trustees Report. Any questions about those should be directed to Trustee Richard Taylor at

However, we are pleased to advise you that plans for The Mersea Recharge are very much on track. We have the necessary consents and arranged the finance. We are now simply waiting for Harwich Harbour Authority to give the go-ahead for their dredge of the approaches to Felixstowe which will provide the material.

To summarise our current position:

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) have issued us with a 10-year licence to carry out the recharge, with (manageable) conditions. This has cost us over £80,000 raised locally.

The Environment Agency (EA) have committed to providing £300k to finance the costs of the material and a further £52k to cover the follow-up monitoring required by MMO.

Harwich Harbour Authority have agreed to arrange the supply and placement of 98,000 cu m of material to the four Mersea sites from a Capital Dredge of Harwich Approaches increasing the depth to 15.5 or 16.5m. They expect their MMO licence imminently and are issuing tenders for the dredging work, and delivery to Mersea. We have agreed that they will bill EA directly for the costs.

RSPB have generously agreed to carry out the bird monitoring surveys specified by the MMO licence prior to and for 5 years subsequent to the recharge. Other survey work will be carried out by ourselves, the oystermen and other groups.

Mark has produced a detailed “manual” of the actions required for preparations towards the delivery of the material and subsequent monitoring.

Dougal Urquhart has joined the team to work with RSPB and coordinate the wildlife aspects.

Richard Bailey has joined the team to support Mark, Richard T and Jon F in the planning and management of the recharge process.

We are instructing our Environmental Consultant, Carol Reid, to assist us with the statutory and contractual issues of the recharge process.

HHA have applied for their licence from MMO and will be putting out tenders for the dredge including delivery of our requirement to Mersea. Although in current global trading conditions the HHA dredge project cannot be 100 % certain, they are currently hoping the final go-ahead to be confirmed in March 2021. But it could then commence without delay and probably allow the Mersea Recharge to take place in the winter of 2021/22, avoiding the key nesting and boating seasons.

In preparation, there will then be three key activities for the Trust to arrange:

Construction of the brushwood fencing to control the movement of the recharge material. This will need a team of volunteers for a work party.

Placing of navigational marks to indicate for the dredger where to unload.

A rota of oystermen to accompany each shipment to ensure that it is delivered to the correct location and on the first of the ebb tide.

Minutes of Annual General Meeting 2019

Minutes of Annual General Meeting Tuesday 28th May 2019 7.30pm at West Mersea Yacht Club, West Mersea 

Attendees: Kieran Alexander (RSPB), Allan Bird (Trustee), Ian Crossley, Jane Dixon (secretary), Mark Dixon (Trustee), Jonathan French (Trustee), Howard Hill, Roger Lankester, Alan Mogridge (Trustee), David Moore, Pat Moore, Mark Nowells (RSPB), Simon Plater (Trustee), Richard Taylor (Trustee), Faith Tippett, Dougal Urquhart


  1. Apologies
  2. Welcome
  3. Minutes of previous AGM.
  4. To elect Trustees in place of Mr A Bird, Mr M Dixon, Mr J French, Mr A Mogridge, Mr S Plater, Mr D Stoker and Mr R Taylor who retire as per the rules of the constitution, and are willing to stand again.
  5. To receive the Trustee’s Report for the year ended 31 October 2018
  6. To receive the Accounts for the year ended 31 October 2018
  7. Succession Management – Construction and monitoring
  8. Powerpoint presentation entitled on local archaeology.
  9. To fix the place of the next Ordinary General Meeting.
  10. Any Other Business



Apologies for Absence
Robert Davidson, Richard Haward, Richard Matthews, Bry Mogridge.

By Richard Taylor.

Minutes of AGM 28.5.18
Proposed  – Allan Bird, Seconded – Simon Plater.

Standing of Trustees, in rotation
Mr A Bird, Mr M Dixon, Mr J French, Mr A Mogridge, Mr S Plater, Mr D Stoker, Mr R Taylor all retired and were re-elected. Proposed: Ian Crossley, Seconded: David Moore, agreed unanimously.

Trustee’s Report
Meeting with Harwich Haven Authority (HHA) all very positive and committed. Final decisions not confirmed but they are moving ahead to do the dredge. It should be noted that HHA has a legal obligation to find beneficial uses for dredgings but do not legally have to go ahead with the beneficial use, this is the British government’s interpretation of the European ruling on beneficial use. They aim to have their application with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) by June 2019 and hope to have approval by the end of the year, tender early 2020 and dredge 2021.

Ideally, the recharge would happen in the spring or autumn of 2021, the Spring would be preferable to the MHPT as fewer boats in the water and the birds (namely little terns and ring plovers) will not have started nesting or may be prevented in areas affected. The MHPT application to the MMO took 18 months and cost £83,000 and in March the licence was granted for 10 years. The Trust is indebted to Essex County Council, Essex Community Foundation, West Mersea Town Council, the Mersea Moorings Association, Environment Agency and others from whom the money was raised.

The Environment Agency have agreed to consider funding of £352,000, of which £300,000 is for supply and transport of material and £52,000 for post-placement monitoring. They are however still trying to get the money from central government and Mark Dixon has been helping them with their Business Case.

The pre-placement monitoring has been undertaken and will continue for five years post the recharge placement. The RSPB have been a great support doing the bird monitoring and we are very fortunate to now have Dougal Urquhart on board who is liaising between MHPT, the RSPB and the Little Tern group.

Volunteers will be needed for building the brushwood fences and assisting with the placement and management.

The MHPT trustees are conscious that they do not have the resources or skills to complete the project and they may fall by the wayside. To this end, Mark Dixon has put together a succession management plan stating all that needs to be done up to the end of the five-year monitoring and how to do it. The Trust is, therefore, looking for volunteers with some relevant background to the project to shadow/take over.

Crown Estates who own three of the sites to be recharged have now themselves had to become to some extent self-funding. They are therefore now charging for placing of recharge material.  If this is being done for coastal defence there is no charge however if there is a social-economic gain then there is a charge of £1.65/m3. The MHPT are caught in the middle as the recharge is for coastal defence but to get the money from the Environment Agency they had to prove socio-economic gain. Mark Dixon has therefore given Crown Estates a full break down of the funding and match funding.  If they do decide to charge this amount to a cost of approximately £150,000, the raising of which may well end the project. Crown Estates may, however, feel that the ensuing press releases from MHPT may be enough to consider substantial fee reduction.

No questions.

Annual Accounts
Richard Taylor put up on the screen a spreadsheet summary of the accounts 2014-2018, showing total income of £87737.00 and outgoings of £82947.00 giving a balance of £4790.00.

Proposal to accept the accounts Ian Crossley seconded David Moore, all agreed.

There is currently no immediate income due or expenditure to pay but should something arise there may be a need to seek further contributions.

Ian Crossley is kindly donating £1000.00 on behalf of the Mersea Island Society. Thanks were given for this kind gesture.

Roger Lankaster asked if the financial contributions in kind had been quantified? Answer. Yes, match funding has totalled £190,000.00 of which £24,000 is down to the RSPB.

There was at this point a change to the order of the Agenda.

Date and place of next AGM
Date and place to be notified nearer the time.

Simon Plater requested a thank you to Richard Taylor and Mark Dixon for all their time and effort be Minuted.

Richard Taylor asked thanks to be passed on to Louisa Tippett for producing the accounts free of charge.

Roger Lankaster using a slide showing Tollesbury Wick and Old Hall Marshes commented that in Epoch 3 (2055) Environment Agency Shoreline Management Plan these sites were proposed areas for managed realignment by which time sea level rise would be about 0.2m. The Environment Agency have been asked to re-consider this option as Old Hall is classified as ancient grazing marsh.

If these areas are realigned the land would become mudflats and potentially make Tollesbury’s marine assets unviable and expose Mersea Harbour. If the land inside these areas could be raised this would create salt marshes and help ease tidal action. Plans to do this work would need to be started soon as it would take decades to create. The RSPB own this land and would have to be involved in this decision.

Mark Dixon responded that the MHPT could not get involved as only a small group but would be happy to write a letter of support. Seawalls are not going to be raised as they can only go so high and clay seawalls are quite resistant. He would support the idea of raising up the areas inside Old Hall and Tollesbury Wick and if using dredgings to build up the ground in these areas, this could work effectively.

There is no easy solution as tidal rise due to be 18” by 2060 then accelerates and in 200 years could be 7m in which case London and New York are no longer. Need to also think about carbon usage.

The recharge being proposed will help slow down the deterioration of these areas and manage the sea level rise. The RSPB currently have a maintain as necessary policy.

Meeting closed at 8.15pm.

The meeting was followed by a talk by Mark Dixon on the changing coastline and how it has affected the archaeological findings on the mudflats around Mersea.

Update May 2019

Following a very positive meeting with John Brien, HHA Harbour Engineer, the Recharge is beginning to take shape. We would like to summarise where we are and where we think we are going.

Whilst the final decisions have not been confirmed, Harwich Harbour Authority has recently taken a number of important steps towards carrying out the capital dredge of the approaches to Harwich and Felixstowe which is essential to permit a new generation of huge container ships to access the Harbour at all states of tide. They are planning to submit an application to the MMO for consent to the dredge around June 2019 and hopes to be in a position to issue tenders in 2020. The recharge could potentially be carried out in 2021.

Harwich has a legal obligation to cooperate with others to see if material from the dredge can be used for “beneficial use”, but is not obliged to ensure that these projects are funded or completed. The Mersea Recharge meets this requirement admirably and the Authority is keen to work with us.

The completed Environment Statement and Application for consent for the Mersea Harbour works were submitted to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in September 2016 and finally granted, with conditions, in March 2018. Consent is valid for 10 years. This process has cost the Trust just under £83k including consultancy fees and surveys required to prepare the Environmental Statement as well as fees to the MMO and DEFRA of £18k. We are indebted to the Members as well as Essex County Council, Essex Community Foundation, Colchester and West Mersea Councils, Mersea Moorings Association and others from whom we have received a total of £87k.

The East Anglian Flood Committee of the Environment Agency have committed to support the anticipated £300k charge from Harwich Harbour Authority for supply, delivery and placement of the recharge material and a further £52k for post recharge monitoring and other costs. However, as the money comes from central Government, the project is required to go through the appropriate assurance process to ensure that the project meets all the environmental, technical and economic requirements and provides best value to the taxpayer. With support from the EA we have prepared a Business Case to seek formal approval of the £350k funding, which is being finalised and due to be submitted shortly. We await final confirmation but are confident of a positive outcome.

Meanwhile, the Crown Estate are beginning to suggest that they might charge us for depositing material on their land (seabed !) if there is deemed to be any commercial benefit involved. We have pointed out that any significant cost could put the whole project at risk. We await their further response.

With the Recharge looking like it could start in just two years’ time, we have been putting together very specific plans as to the management and operational requirements of the project including fulfilling our obligations under the MMO consents, which include surveys and monitoring activities from now until five years after completion. Some of this work is about the local birdlife, and the Little Tern in particular. We are delighted that the RSPB have agreed to take full responsibility for this major task at no cost to the Trust, and we are pleased to confirm that Dougal Urquhart has volunteered to coordinate with them.

Amongst the other tasks will be the construction and ongoing maintenance of a series of brushwood fences on each of the recharge sites. This will require a team of willing volunteers. We will need to set up navigation marks and withies to guide the dredger into position and where to direct the stream of material as it is pumped out. There will be an oysterman in attendance to the dredger on each and every delivery to ensure precise positioning and to check that it does not commence until the ebb tide is away.

Conscious of the real risk that the few key players who have brought the project this far could fall by the wayside, and in any case do not have all the project management, administrative and communication skills, or time and energy to see the job through, we have recognised the need to identify additional people to join the team and take specific roles. We have therefore developed a detailed Construction and Monitoring (Succession Management) Plan to become the Operating Manual to guide the team through the process from today through to the end of the five-year monitoring cycle.

Your Trust needs you.

Notice of AGM

Notice is hereby given that an ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING will be held at West Mersea Yacht Club on Tuesday 28th May 2019 at 7.30pm.


  1. Apologies
  2. Welcome
  3. Minutes of previous AGM
  4. To elect Trustees in place of Mr R Taylor, Mr A Bird, Mr M   Dixon, Mr J French, Mr A Mogridge, Mr S Plater and Mr D Stoker, who retire as per the rules of the constitution, and are willing to stand again
  5. To receive the Trustee’s Report
  6. To receive the Accounts for the year to 31st October 2018
  7. Powerpoint presentation and Environmental Statement
  8. Date of place of next meeting
  9. Any other business

If you wish, you may view the Mersea Harbour Protection Trust Accounts 31 Oct 2018 here.

Entitlement to vote
Members and Associate members are entitled to attend the meeting. Only members are entitled to vote.

Representation of organisations and corporate members
An organisation or a corporate body that is a member of the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) may, in accordance with its usual decision-making process, authorise a person to act as its representative at any general meeting of the CIO. The representative is entitled to exercise the same powers on behalf of the organisation or corporate body as the organisation or corporate body could exercise as an individual member of the CIO.

Donation received from Essex Community Foundation

Mersea Harbour Protection Trust are pleased to announce a donation of £4000 from the Bartleet Family Fund administered by Essex Community Foundation. This money Is to be used for ongoing consultancy and administrative expenses in the period prior to commencing the Recharge operation, for which support is promised from the Environment Agency.


Consents Granted for the Mersea Recharge Project

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.

Mersea Recharge – Update September 2017

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.