Licensing body remains silent despite thousands calling for end to Falmouth dredge saga
Over 6550 letters have been sent as part of a campaign to save a unique area for marine wildlife around Falmouth. So far these remain unanswered. Today, concerned locals joined leading environmental charities the Marine Conservation Society and Friends of the Earth to meet with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in Hayle to deliver copies of these letters in person. They were there to remind the licensing body of the ever-growing level of public concern surrounding plans to dredge in the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation and to urge it to respond by doing all it can to safeguard this special underwater beauty-spot.
The Marine Conservation Society and Friends of the Earth teamed up to launch the #SaveFalBay campaign back in September. At that time it was revealed that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) was conducting a scientific assessment to inform “pre-application advice” they were due to provide the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC). They had been asked to give the FHC advice regarding the Commissioners’ continued hopes to gouge a channel through the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Over the last few months, concerned individuals have written to the Marine Management Organisation to urge them to consider new evidence produced by local scientist Dr Miles Hoskin during their assessment. This report highlights critical flaws in the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners’ plans. Despite several months passing since the launch of the campaign, these letters have not yet been met with a public response by the Marine Management Organisation, and the licensing body has remained silent as to whether they are taking Dr Hoskin’s peer-reviewed report into account at this time.
Emily Williams, MCS Campaign Officer for the Marine Conservation Society said “the Harbour Commissioners’ hopes to dredge in the Carrick Roads section of this Special Area of Conservation has been a dark cloud hanging over Falmouth and those who desperately care for our seas for years. As a student in Falmouth during the period when the port first applied to undertake these activities, I remember the level of concern this generated amongst the local community. Seven years on, isn’t it about time the MMO acknowledged that these plans are incompatible with the protection of this precious site? The Fal and Helford SAC is home to absolutely incredible animals and plants that cannot be replaced.”
The Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation is particularly important as it contains maerl, a magnificent rocky seaweed habitat, which looks similar to pink coral. Maerl takes thousands of years to grow and is extremely important for the young fish and shellfish which fishers depend on. Dr Miles Hoskin’s research makes it clear that if these plans were to go ahead, live maerl would be destroyed.