At a time when land-based quarrying is under increasing environmental
pressure, marine aggregates are of growing importance.
Some 21 per cent of the sand and gravel requirements of England
and Wales now come from the sea. Marine sand and gravel also plays an increasingly important role in tackling the challenges of climate change by supporting large scale beach nourishment projects. The marine aggregates industry
also contributes to our balance of payments through exports to
the near continent and dredging is undertaken by a fleet of largely British
owned and crewed ships working 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year.
Licensed dredging areas typically lie six miles offshore and in
water more than 20 metres deep, so avoiding any possibility of
coastal erosion. Of some 1344 square kilometres of seabed licensed for
marine aggregate extraction in 2007, only 134.7 square kilometres was actually dredged, equivalent to just 0.016% of the UK continental shelf area.
Over 7 million tonnes of marine sand and gravel are delivered to wharves along the Thames river each year, requiring on average 4 cargoes of 5,000 tonnes to be landed each day. The contribution of marine aggregate supplies in this region is equivalent to 1000 lorry loads of sand and gravel being delivered by sea, close to the point of demand, 365 days a year.
As a responsible operator, the industry recognizes the potential for its operations to impact upon the marine environment and are committed to minimizing and mitigating such effects. The industry also shares the marine environment with a wide range of other users including fishing, shipping, energy and recreation, and has a responsibility to operate with due regard to their needs. A marine stewardship approach is key, and operators believe this challenge should be approached as a partnership with all the other parties involved and have instigated a range of voluntary initiatives designed to improve the performance of the sector by minimizing the significance of its operations to both stakeholders and the environment.
interests of the MPA's marine aggregate producers are represented
by a constituent body of MPA, the British Marine Aggregate Producers
Association (BMAPA). Its website is available at www.bmapa.org.
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