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Marine Conservation Zone in Cornwall under threat from Super Quarry

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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

Jeff chats to… Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder and Project Leader of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores.

Ana Filipa Sobral is a marine biologist and conservationist based in the Azores Islands. She moved to the Azores in 2011 and once there, realised that this was one of the few places in the world where Sicklefin Devil Rays (Mobula tarapacana) gather in large groups, making it a strategic place to study them. She started the The Manta Catalog Project and through this project, collects photo ID and occurrence data on Mobulid Rays, with the precious help of divers and dive operators as citizen scientists.

Ana is also finishing her PhD which focuses on population genetics and connectivity of migratory elasmobranchs in oceanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The main goal fueling my research has been to help fill the knowledge gaps on elasmobranch biology and ecology to ultimately assist in the design of effective conservation and management plans aimed at protecting their populations in this remote region of the North Atlantic Ocean.

You can find out more about Ana’s important work at: https://mantacatalogazores.wixsite.com/mobulaid/project.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Dive Holiday Deals from Diverse Travel

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Planning your next dive holiday? Check out the latest special offers from UK-based Tour Operator Diverse Travel and get yourself a great dive holiday deal!

INDONESIA | MY Emperor Harmoni | Bali, Sumbawa & Komodo | 15 – 23 September 2022

Save up to 1/3 off a trip to Indonesia!

Your chance to dive Bali, Komodo and Raja Ampat aboard the NEW luxury MY Emperor Harmoni for less!

Launching in September 2022. Emperor Harmoni is Emperor Divers Indonesia’s brand new liveaboard.

Built of Sulawesi Ironwood and offering a truly new experience to liveaboard holidays, experience a true sense of sailing the Indonesian seas in freedom, style, comfort and confidence with her two engines. Enjoy spacious diving and relaxation areas or relax with a massage on deck.

Example price based on Bali departure to Komodo

WAS £2900 / NOW from just £1995* per person based on sharing a twin luxury cabin including:

  • 1 night in Bali before the boat departure with airport transfers
  • One way flight from Labuan Bajo to Bali after the liveaboard with 20kgs baggage
  • 7 nights onboard MY Emperor Harmoni with 3 meals a day, afternoon snacks, unlimited drinking water, tea & coffee
  • All diving with guide, cylinders & weights, Marine Park & Port Fees
  • Free Nitrox
  • 1 cocktail party on a local island (weather allowing)
  • Return airport transfers

* Price excludes international flights, these can be quoted at the time of reservation

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Other Dates available – book before 30 September!


MALTA | Dolmen Hotel | 28 September – 05 October 2022

With easily accessible dive sites offering great visibility, caves, overhangs and swim-throughs, with few currents, Malta is an ideal diving holiday location.

A modern hotel, with spacious, comfortable guest rooms and a choice of restaurants with delicious international and national cuisine. Several wonderfully relaxing bars, outdoor and indoor pools, plus a casino and several function rooms.

Price from just £975 per person and includes:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Malta with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in twin room
  • Bed & Breakfast meal plan
  • 5 day / 10 dives diving with guide, tanks & weights

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – alternative dates available


MALDIVES | Emperor Atoll | Best of Maldives | 10 – 18 September  2022

This popular liveaboard and her crew give a personalised welcome to small groups of no more than 12 guests.

Built to high, comfortable standards she measures 26 metres and accommodates guests in 6 twin-berth cabins, all with air-conditioning and private bathrooms.

From just £1925 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London to Male with 30kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, afternoon snacks, unlimited drinking water, tea & coffee
  • 6 days’ diving – total of 17 dives (incl. 1 night dive), guide, cylinders & weights
  • Free Nitrox
  • 1 BBQ dinner on uninhabited island (weather allowing)
  • Malé city tour (on request)
  • Return airport transfers

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.


EGYPT | Emperor Superior | Reefs & Wrecks | 11 – 18 November 2022

A very popular liveaboard, Emperor Superior offers fantastic diving in comfortable surroundings. Her experienced crew make this one of the best for divers in the Red Sea.

NOW from just £1255 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox
  • Airport transfers

Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Limited spaces available.


EGYPT | Emperor Echo | South & St Johns Itinerary | 05 – 12 January 2023

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

Price NOW from just £1035 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price.

Alternative departure airports available at a supplement.


All offers are subject to availability. Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002, email the team at  info@diversetravel.co.uk or click HERE to see the latest special offers on their website.

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Save up to 1/3 off a trip to Indonesia! Your chance to dive Bali, Komodo and Raja Ampat aboard the NEW luxury MY Emperor Harmoni for less! Launching in September 2022. Emperor Harmoni is Emperor Divers Indonesia’s brand new liveaboard. Built of Sulawesi Ironwood and offering a truly new experience to liveaboard holidays, experience a true sense of sailing the Indonesian seas in freedom, style, comfort and confidence with her two engines. Enjoy spacious diving and relaxation areas or relax with a massage on deck. Example price based on Bali departure to Komodo WAS £2900 / NOW from just £1995* per person based on sharing a twin luxury cabin including: 1 night in Bali before the boat departure with airport transfers One way flight from Labuan Bajo to Bali after the liveaboard with 20kgs baggage 7 nights onboard MY Emperor Harmoni with 3 meals a day, afternoon snacks, unlimited drinking water, tea & coffee All diving with guide, cylinders & weights, Marine Park & Port Fees Free Nitrox 1 cocktail party on a local island (weather allowing) Return airport transfers * Price excludes international flights, these can be quoted at the time of reservation Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Other Dates available - book before 30 September! Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

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