Mining Company Accused of Unlawful Seabed Sampling

Alex Dick-Read

Question: Is nature for sale to the highest bidder? And if so, does the highest bidder have to comply with laws?
This just in from Surfers Against Sewage.

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Sites where sampling has taken place along the North cornish coast. Image via SAS

MARINE MINERALS LIMITED CARRY OUT UNLAWFUL SAMPLING FOR DREDGING PLANS

We can reveal that Marine Minerals Limited (MML) has unlawfully undertaken the first significant works associated with their dredging proposal. Considering St Ives Bay is one of only 3 sites Marine Minerals Limited is applying to dredge, they are either incompetent or negligent in failing to apply for the necessary permission to carry out their sampling under the Coastal Protection Act 1949.

SAS has serious concerns about the project and how Marine Minerals Limited is operating. Marine Minerals Limited is simultaneously making very limited information available whilst they and their PR agency are promoting unsubstantiated claims. Marine Minerals Limited is yet to announce the method of dredging they will use to remove tens of millions of tonnes of sediment from the North Cornish coast, or how they have arrived at the number of jobs they believe their proposed activity will create. Without this information SAS and other stakeholders cannot identify the level of environmental impact that will be felt at the coast or the true number of established jobs that could be threatened or new employment that might be generated within the county.

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St. Ives area’s Godrevy Beach, where mining samples have been taken. Photo by surfhog.com

Marine Minerals Limited has no excuse for not securing the appropriate licences before undertaking the seabed sampling work within St Ives Bay. SAS not only referenced the Coastal Protection Act 1949 but also even named the licencing authority in their response to Marine Minerals Limited’s scoping opinion. The Marine Management Organisation also clearly stated in relation to every license they grant that they “…would further advise you that the issue of this licence does not absolve you from seeking any other consents or approvals which may be required before you embark upon the work to which it refers.” It’s clear that the responsibility to ensure all licences and permissions falls with the applicant, Marine Minerals Limited.

Surfers Against Sewage’s Campaign Director Andy Cummins says: “Carrying out these works without the relevant permissions, as Marine Minerals Limited has, are not the actions of a responsible developer. Showing such blatant disregard for the environment and the licencing authorities demonstrates why SAS is right to have serious concerns about this proposal. The North Cornish coast is too valuable to allow irresponsible and unprofessional operators to carry out potentially devastating works.”

A spokesperson from the North Coast Protection Association said: “North Coast Protection Association (NCPA) are disappointed, but not surprised to learn of this development. Already we are aware of the countless contradictions made by Marine Minerals Ltd (MML) in their public relations and application documents which can only be seen as disingenous at best. We continue to have serious concerns that this company does not act in a professional way and the potential loss of jobs, and damage to the environment are simply too great to allow the project to go ahead”.

Cornwall Seal Group co-ordinator says: “I am sad to say that this description fits with our experience of Marine Minerals Limited. Marine Minerals Limited forced Cornwall Seal Group to work to extremely short deadlines of a few days because Marine Minerals Limited had booked a sampling boat before having obtained their original MMO sampling license.”

SAS are pleased that Cornwall Council is in the process of writing to both the MMO and Marine Minerals Limited setting out that it fully expects to that should Marine Minerals Limited wish to conduct either further sampling runs, or a larger scale extraction of materials from the sea bed, it is to first to get permission from Cornwall Council for this extraction as the licensing authority under the 2002 Order. However, SAS are extremely disappointed that a prosecution is not being sought.

The UK’s coastline and surfing waves need better protection from inappropriate developments like this and pollution. Join SAS in calling for legislation to Protect Our Waves by signing the petition at www.protectourwaves.org.uk

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