Metoc plc has launched a new service to provide environmental engineering for dredging of marine aggregates from the UK Continental Shelf to meet demand by major developments in the South East, such as the Thames Gateway and London Olympics 2012. Metoc’s services include marine EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), support for licence applications for extraction as well as mathematical modelling, surveying, oceanography and sedimentology.
Demand for aggregates in the South East is forecast to increase from 38 million tonnes in 2003 to 45 million tonnes in 2010 (source: ODPM).
“Marine sources are increasingly required to meet the overall demand for aggregates. Our experience and expertise in the marine environment enables us to support applicants through the highly regulated extraction licence process. The Government’s guidelines require a Scoping Study, EIA and Coastal Impact Study. Our services have been specifically designed to reduce risks and ensure compliance across all these areas.” says Chris Mooij of Metoc.
Metoc’s services are designed to help operators through the GV (Government Views) or subsequent statutory procedures. These services are underpinned by more than 20 years experience of the UK’s coastal waters. Metoc understands both the risks that a project poses to the environment and also those of the environment for the project, according to Mooij.
Metoc’s track record in Marine EIA enables it to cover all aspects of the GV procedure. Where clients require stakeholder consultation, survey or mathematical modelling Metoc offers a robust evaluation of the licence application.
Some 21 per cent of the sand and gravel used in England and Wales is supplied by the marine aggregate industry. In the south east, 33 per cent of sand and gravel for construction comes from the seabed. There are currently over 70 production licences producing approximately 22 million tonnes of material per annum (Source: The Crown Estate).
Aggregates on the seabed in the UK territorial waters are owned by The Crown Estate which grants extraction licences and charges a royalty for each tonne dredged. Licences cover 0.12 per cent of the UK Continental Shelf, of which only 12 per cent is actively dredged each year.
Marine licensing follows review by the ODPM for each application. This process requires comprehensive EIA and extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders. The process typically takes up to 10 years. Before making a decision, the ODPM consults scientific advisors over extraction conditions – which include coastal processes, fisheries, marine life and archaeology.