ARCHIVE: Surveys to help protect submerged habitats and heritage
Defra is funding regional surveys to develop a better understanding of Britain’s submerged habitats and heritage in areas of possible marine sand and gravel extraction. The seabed around our coast holds a wealth of marine life and habitats as well as a huge range of historic finds; ancient and modern from shipwrecks to prehistoric landscapes, submerged as sea levels rose after end of the Ice Age and Britain became an island.
Although rarely attracting public attention, dredging of the seabed for sand and gravel is a major contributor to the UK construction industry – particularly in the South East of England, where a third of construction aggregate requirements come from marine sources. The planned surveys will cover two regions where extraction takes place, the Thames Estuary (off the Essex and Suffolk coasts) and the South Coast (off Hampshire and Sussex), both of which have been worked since the 1970s.
In both cases, a wide region which encompasses the current licences and their surrounding areas will be surveyed to characterise the seabed habitat and heritage so that the effects of future dredging can be placed into a much wider environmental context. Up to 5000 kilometres of acoustic survey data will be acquired in each region, as well as seabed samples, video and photographs. The survey programme which will involve environmental and heritage experts, started in June and is due to finish by the end of August.
The work is funded by the Government’s Marine Environment Protection Fund (MEPF), administered by Cefas on behalf of Defra under the wider Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund. It is directed by a Steering Group drawn from industry, regulators and scientific advisors.
- More information about the surveys (PDF 25 KB)
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Page last modified:
14 December 2007
Page published: 14 December 2007