Marine Aggregates Licensing
Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd. (HAML) currently extracts sand and gravel from a number of fully licenced marine aggregate extraction areas situated around the coastline, with licence areas in the Humber, Anglian and Thames regions, South Coast, Eastern English Channel, the Bristol Channel/Severn Estuary and Liverpool Bay.
All of the areas in which HAML undertakes marine aggregate extraction are held under both commercial and legal production agreements issued by the Crown Estate, the mineral owner, and environmental-based marine licences issued by either the Marine Management Organisation (English waters) or Natural Resources Wales (Welsh waters). These licences are issued by the regulator after a rigorous environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been undertaken together with consultation, comprising assessment by statutory bodies and through wider public engagement. The EIA process ensures that all the potential effects on the environment of offshore dredging, including effects on the coastline, marine life, fisheries and archaeology are fully considered and, where required, appropriate mitigation is put in place. This is to ensure that best practice is always followed and that our activities do not have any adverse effects on the marine environment.
Due to the nature of marine aggregate extraction, it is just as important to consider the historic marine environment as well. To this end, a successful protocol set up between Industry and Historic England for reporting and investigating archaeological finds on the ships and at the wharves is in place. Finds can include prehistoric remains such as mammoth bones, teeth and tusks from the ice ages, to more modern cannon balls and occasional aircraft wreckage from WWII.
All marine aggregate extraction is undertaken to a high degree of accuracy, with reference to high resolution shallow seismic profile data and seabed core samples. This data also allows the company’s marine mineral reserves to be accurately assessed. When loading a cargo, the dredger’s position and tracks are displayed on the bridge in real time together with geological and licence boundaries to ensure that the best quality resources are extracted, and extracted from the correct location. The vessel’s activity is also constantly recorded by a Crown Estate electronic monitoring system linked to the navigation receiver and the dredge gear sensors. This records when and where the ship is dredging to ensure compliance with licence conditions.