Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation

Marine Conservation Zone In Cornwall Under Threat From Super Quarry

Published

on

Once again, industry seems to be flying in the face of conservation and the concerns of local people. Two companies, Shire Oak Energy and Shire Oak Quarries are trying to open a dormant quarry (Dean Quarry) which is situated on the beautiful Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. The environments in which we live throughout the world are continually being destroyed in the name of short term profit and thoughtless greed. Once again the wishes of a local parish council seem to be  being over ruled by County Council. Why are large companies allowed to over rule the wishes of local people and why is the time and money used in setting up protected areas wasted so easily? As we progress into the 21st century I always hope we can learn from past mistakes and protect precious environments that make our own living spaces so special. So often I am proved entirely wrong.

If you would like to help stop this destructive development then get involved and let your voice be heard.

I contacted Jo from Porthkerris Divers who operate in the area to ask her about the project. This is her reply:

The story so far….

Director (and majority share holder) of Shire Oak Energy and Shire Oak Quarries, Mark Shorrock, is also director (and shareholder) of several companies linked to the Quarry (Tidal Lagoon Power, Dean Quarry Mineral Rights, Tidal Lagoon Swansea etc). They propose to excavate 1.5 million tonnes in the first year alone, although figures are forever changing. Previous quarrying at its maximum was no more than 200,000 tonnes a year. The quarry has been dormant since 2008. The stone is to be used to build the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea and possibly others, should permission be granted to build them, ironically in the name of “green energy” (“energy which is produced in a way that PROTECTS our natural environment”)!!

The company, Shire Oak Quarries has already submitted a land based planning application (security fencing, explosives store, buildings etc.). Although it was turned down by the Local Parish Council, it was approved by Cornwall Council.

The next step is that the company Shire Oak Energy are soon going to submit an application to build a 535m long 50m wide breakwater and jetties within the Manacles Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) which borders the old quarry, so that they can load 10,000 tonne barges 24/7.

quarry 3

Many people and organisations have huge concerns about this project and particularly the breakwater and jetties within the actual MCZ. The quarry is only a few hundred meters from houses and the local primary school in the village of St Keverne. We have been told by Mark Shorrock – in a public meeting on 30th January in front of a village hall packed with worried locals – that if he didn’t get the permission for his breakwater and jetties that he would drive all the stone out through the village in lorries, past the primary school, houses, popular tourist attractions etc. For the amount of stone that they are wanting to extract a year, that would mean several hundred lorries a week.

The Manacles MCZ, where they want to build the breakwater, is renowned for its fast flowing tidal currents and clear waters, supporting an amazing range of marine life – jewel anemones, sea fans, mearl beds, plumose anemones, spiny lobster, etc. It is a perfect, protected breeding ground for many types of fish. The manacles MCZ is also an important area for marine mammals and the internationally protected basking shark, which are highly sensitive to noise. How will blasting, loading of the 10,000 tonne barges 24 hours a day etc. affect them? What effect will the breakwater have on currents and sediment transport processes? What effects will the day-to-day operations have on redistribution of sediments? The proposal is to bring in several 10,000 ton barges per week, which will have to be moved by tug boats. We would question how the propeller action of the tugs will interact with tidal and wave action to redistribute the sediment around the manacles MCZ.

The Manacles is also an extremely treacherous shipping area (hence the large number of shipwrecks in the area). Navigating the inner manacles with 2 tugs guiding a 10,000 tonne barge laden with rock armour several times a week, is surely an accident waiting to happen.

And talking of Ship wecks, the position of the actual breakwater is right on the site of a famous shipwreck called “The John”, which went down in 1855 with a loss of 194 lives (There is a whole website dedicated to it which you can find here). Not far from the breakwater also lies the famous shipwrecks ‘The Mohegan’, The ‘Andola’ and ‘The Spiridian Vagliano’ and the war ship ‘The Primrose’.

It is essential that the few areas of relatively pristine marine habitat we have left remain properly protected. Many conservation organisations and leading academics are already very concerned about the government’s failure to deliver the full network of MCZs that were recommended by the scientific community. The Manacles MCZ is one of only 27, out of 120 proposed. Luckily there are now calls for more to be designated… but it is important that we are able to also protect the ones already in place; otherwise, what is the point?

The proposed development of a breakwater and general up-scaling of operations at Dean quarry is therefore not only the first real test of what it means to be a MCZ, but will also be under intense scrutiny from conservation groups and the marine science community. The manacles MCZ looks set to serve as an important test case. This is the first major challenge to a MCZ and could set a precedent for the others.

Cuckoo wrasse male & sea fans etc, Manacles 1

So many people are very concerned about the proposed development and how it could negatively affect lives and livelihoods, health, safety, the environment, the AONB, SW coast path etc etc, but unfortunately a lot of people are not aware of the impacts on life under the sea. Now would be a great time to raise awareness of this particular issue, so that when this next application is made, people will have a better understanding of what is at stake.

The first stages of the plans have been covered by the following publications:

Daily Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/11412996/Cornish-villagers-fear-devastation-over-quarry-for-green-energy-scheme.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11547082/Will-Welsh-eels-scupper-the-craziest-green-project-ever.html

Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3041005/CHRISTOPHER-BOOKER-1-billion-lagoon-Britain-s-pottiest-green-scheme.html#comments

Others:

https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=dean+quarry&tbm=nws

For more information, visit www.cads2015.com, or find the ‘Community Against Dean Superquarry’ on Facebook. For Marine Management Organisation plan documents, downloadfrom: https://marinelicensing.marinemanagement.org.uk/mmo/fox

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Marine Life & Conservation

Boating and conservation worlds unite to save Studland’s seagrass and seahorses

Published

on

Charity The Seahorse Trust and national marina group boatfolk have joined forces to deliver a practical solution for saving Studland’s unique marine environment.

The two organisations have collaborated on a not-for-profit scheme to put ten ‘eco-moorings’ into Studland Bay to give boaters an attractive, environmentally friendly alternative to dropping their anchors. The dropping of anchors has damaging consequences for seabed environments including seagrass meadows. This is a significant concern as seagrass provides essential habitat for species including seahorses and also stores up to twice as much carbon per hectare as terrestrial forests, playing a major role in keeping climate change in check.

The scheme was recently approved by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) following its designation in 2019 as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) and installation of the new eco-moorings is now underway. The organisations’ eco-mooring proposal was supported by letters from high-profile conservation advocates including Chris Packham and Steve Backshall. The scheme is also being supported by Mitch Tonks and Rockfish who will provide funding for the installation of one of the eco-moorings.

The MCZ designation was made on the basis of Studland Bay’s seagrass meadows, which are an internationally important breeding ground for the Spiny Seahorse, one of Britain’s native seahorse species. The Spiny Seahorse was protected in 2008 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act following campaigning by the Seahorse Trust. The legal aim of the MCZ designation was to return both seagrass and seahorses to ‘favourable condition’.

Image: Ross Young

Neil Garrick-Maidment, Founder and Executive Director of The Seahorse Trust said: “The designation of Studland Bay as a Marine Conservation Zone was a long-awaited and hugely significant moment in safeguarding UK seahorse populations. It is now vital that the area is effectively protected and that everyone who uses the bay does so responsibly and sustainably. I am delighted to be working with boatfolk to develop a practical solution, which allows boaters to continue enjoying this remarkable site, in a way which also enables the conservation of rare seagrass meadows and crucial seahorse breeding grounds.”

Michael Prideaux, Managing Director of boatfolk said: “In late August, I met Neil on the beach at Studland Bay. We were united by our shared passion for the environment and by a desire to work with, and alongside, the boating community for a solution that everyone can get behind. boatfolk is all about making it easy for people to get out on the water and to enjoy their time afloat. Providing an alternative option at Studland that protects this incredible marine environment is about doing the right thing for boaters and for our planet. Financial return is not an objective here; we are committed to making Studland Bay a sustainable boating destination for generations to come and are proud to be putting our name and resources behind the scheme.”

The scheme forms part of boatfolk’s wider sustainability strategy, Coastline Deadline, a new platform designed to back projects which have a real, positive and measurable impact on the coastline.

Michael Prideaux adds, “We know our industry has an impact on the environment and that not enough is being done to raise awareness and change behaviours. Our goal isn’t to stop people boating. In fact, it’s the opposite. By making changes now we want to ensure that the coastline and oceans remain a place that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Image: Neil Garrick-Maidment

The benefits of eco-moorings are well-documented. Such moorings involve a helical screw anchor being driven into the seabed. An elastic rode is then attached, connecting the anchor system with the mooring buoy. The elastic rode will stretch at higher tides and contract at lower tides meaning that none of the equipment scours the seagrass around it. The moorings also provide a hassle-free option for boaters, saving them the trouble of having to drop their own anchors (which can often drag before taking a hold and leave the boat owner to clean the equipment afterwards).

Neil Garrick-Maidment and Michael Prideaux commented: “The Seahorse Trust and boatfolk are united in a clear belief that eco-moorings are the way forward for Studland, allowing boaters to continue enjoying the site while seagrass and seahorses thrive alongside. We were thrilled  to secure  MMO approval   for our proposal, which we believe provides a practical and collaborative roadmap to finally giving Studland Bay the effective protection it deserves, and are delighted that installation of the eco-moorings is now underway following successful tests of the helical screw.

The Seahorse Trust and boatfolk are very grateful to award-winning Devon and Dorset restaurant group Rockfish for their generous sponsorship of one of the initial ten eco-moorings.

Mitch Tonks, restaurateur, Rockfish and Seahorse restaurants, and co-founder of the Devon Environment Foundation, expressed his support for the scheme: “We believe Rockfish has a purpose beyond our restaurants. This is exactly the sort of project we like to support – practical, visible and useful, as well as changing the way we impact our world. It’s this on-the-ground stuff we love that people like The Seahorse Trust go out there and do.”

For more information on the work of The Seahorse Trust visit their website by clicking here.

Header image: Neil Garrick-Maidment

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Huge thresher shark is the latest of six murals to be painted around the Solent this summer

Published

on

The murals celebrate the Solent’s extraordinary marine life – marking National Marine Week.

Secrets of the Solent have commissioned street artist ATM to paint a series of marine-themed artworks at various locations around the Solent this summer. The latest mural to be finished shows a thresher shark on the Langstone Harbour Office. Langstone Harbour is an important area for wildlife as well as a bustling seaside destination for sailing and water sports.

Artist ATM, who is painting all six murals, is well-known for his iconic wildlife street art. This, his second artwork of the series, took three days to paint freehand, from a scaffolding platform. The thresher shark was chosen out of six marine species to be the subject of the artwork by the local community, who were asked to vote via an online form or in person on the Hayling Ferry.

Secrets of the Solent hope the mural will become a landmark in Langstone Harbour and inspire visitors to learn more about this enigmatic oceanic shark. The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, works to celebrate and raise awareness of Solent’s diverse marine environment.

Aiming to highlight the exotic and unusual creatures found close to our coasts, artist ATM says: “I really enjoyed painting the thresher shark because it’s such an amazing looking animal, with a tail as long as its body. I hope when people see the murals, they will become more aware of what lives under the waves and the importance of protecting the vital habitats within the Solent.”

Dr Tim Ferrero, Senior Marine Biologist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says: “The thresher shark is a wonderful animal that visits our waters every summer. It comes to an area to the east of the Isle of Wight, and this appears to be where the sharks breed and have their young. Not many people know that we have thresher sharks in our region, and so having our mural here on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this mysterious ocean wanderer. I really hope that people will come away with the knowledge that the Solent, our harbours and our seas are incredibly important for wildlife.”

Rachel Bryan, Project Manager for Secrets of the Solent at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust comments: “We are really excited to have street artist ATM painting a thresher shark on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building. We chose this building because of its prominent location right on the entrance to Langstone Harbour so that anyone who’s visiting, whether that’s walkers, cyclists or people coming in and out of the harbour on their jet-skis or sailing boats, will all be able to see our thresher shark. People on the Portsmouth side of the harbour will also be able to see the mural from across the water.”

The thresher shark is a mysterious predator which spends most of its time in oceanic waters. It uses its huge whip-like tail as an incredibly effective tool for hunting its prey. Herding small fish into tight shoals, the shark will lash at them with its tail, stunning several in one hit and making them easier to catch.

Secrets of the Solent hope to work with the species this summer to discover more about its behaviour.

Dr Tim Ferrero explains: “Nobody really knows where thresher sharks go in the ocean. Later this summer we are hoping that we are going to be able to attach a satellite tag to a thresher shark and monitor its progress for an entire year. This will provide really important information that will help us learn so much more about the shark’s annual life cycle.”

The new thresher shark mural is a fantastic start to National Marine Week (24th July – 8th August), which celebrates the unique marine wildlife and habitats we have here in the UK. Over the two weeks, Wildlife Trusts around the country will be running a series of exciting events to celebrate the marine environment. We really hope people will be inspired by our murals and want to learn more about each chosen species.

Events in the Solent include the launch of a new Solent marine film on the 29th July, installation of a new Seabin on the 4th August to reduce marine litter, and citizen science surveys throughout summer.

For more information click here.

Header image: Bret Charman

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular