Businesses relieved after Wells Harbour Commissioners get new dredging licence
A new licence has been approved to allow dredging at Wells harbour for three years, to the relief of many businesses and residents.
The approval was announced by Wells Harbour Commissioners today and follows months of delay and uncertainty due to the Marine Management Organisation's (MMO's) concerns over environmental issues.
Dredging is necessary to enable vessels working at the £1bn Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and fishing boats to operate in and out of Wells and is seen as vital to the local economy.
A petition, signed by more than 1,200 people, was sent to the MMO in support of the harbour commissioners' application for a new dredging licence.
Mr Smith said: 'We are very glad to have this licence at last, and the fact that it is for three years is a major advance over the last two-year licence.
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'This decision helps guarantee safe and dependable access to the harbour for wind farm, fishing and other deeper draught vessels vital to the continued economic prosperity of the port of Wells.'
The MMO said in a statement: 'The new licence enables the disposal of dredged material to continue within the Wells Harbour disposal sites and sets out a number of conditions WHC must also adhere to.
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'The MMO took into account representations made as part of the consultation process and also worked closely with WHC to ensure adequate information and data was provided to enable the assessment of disposal works at the harbour.
'This information was vital in enabling the MMO to determine whether or not any potential impacts to the marine environment could occur as a result of the disposal activity.
'The licence could not have been determined without such information as the MMO needed to make sure work would be compliant with all relevant legislation.'
Mr Smith added 'As more wind farms are developed offshore, other companies can now be confident that they are welcome to work from Wells.'
Wells Harbour Commissioners chairman Tony Pannell said: 'The community will be relieved, as many jobs and hopes for our young people depend on Wells being an operational base for the wind farms.
'The fishing industry has also benefited from the improved access and facilities of the Outer Harbour.
'We regret the delays experienced and will be taking that up with MMO. We thank everyone who has supported us'.
Mr Smith said: 'We are studying the fine print of the licence and if any of the conditions appear unworkable we will appeal against them but MMO assures us that they should essentially enable dredging to continue as it has done to date.'