UK's first commercial seaweed farm could be set up off north Norfolk coast
PUBLISHED: 15:51 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:05 09 January 2019
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The UK's first commercial seaweed farming operation could be set up off the north Norfolk coast under new proposals.
Sustainable Seaweed is looking to set up a farm approximately 6km off the coast of Wells in an area the size of around three football pitches.
The proposal was discussed by Wells Town Council at a meeting on Monday, where both co-directors of the company, Jeff Eneberi and Sahil Shah, addressed councillors.
Mr Eneberi said during the meeting: “We want to create a business that is great for the environment and employment for the local community.
“All the bodies are also learning alongside us. There is always going to be a pioneer at some point and this is why we are having this conversation now.”
The seaweed would be grown using mats which would sit three metres under the water and are then lifted out of the sea to be prepared for usage.
The company wants to work with local fishermen and is aiming to farm around 100,000 tonnes of seaweed and create 100 jobs in the area by its fifth year.
The harvests would take place four times a year, with the company planning on being based at the Egmere Business Zone, between Fakenham and Wells, which is currently the subject of an independent review into its viability.
Seaweed farming has long been discussed in the county. In 2014, a ‘Growing a Seaweed Economy in East Anglia’ conference was hosted in Norwich.
Mr Shah also spoke at the meeting and said: “A study effectively looked at the whole UK coastline and basically isolated this area off the coast of north Norfolk as the best area to undertake seaweed farming.
Mr Eneberi also added: “This is very preliminary, we haven’t started anything. We want to have right conversations with the right people first.”
After the meeting, mayor of Wells Mike Gates said: “It is a very early stage but it sounds like it could be a very exciting project.
“We are concerned that we get the best deal, it has to work for the whole town.”
Sustainable Seaweed is currently in the process of talking to key local stakeholders and would need both a licence from the Marine Management Organisation and a lease from the Crown Estate in order to start operating.
What is seaweed used for?
Seaweed farming is an industry which has been on the rise globally in recent years.
The UK’s first commercial seaweed farming operation could be set up off the coast of Wells in north Norfolk, but what is seaweed actually used for?
Seaweed is often used as a food, including in sushi dishes, and is also used as food thickener in ice cream. It is especially used as food in Asia, where the majority of the world’s seaweed is grown and farmed.
It is also used in toothpaste as well as cosmetics such as body creams and lotions and can be used as a fertiliser to help grow crops in light soil.
Jeff Eneberi, co-director of Sustainable Seaweed, said in a Wells Town Council meeting: “People are looking for alternative food sources and protein sources and seaweed is one of those.”
Animals benefit from seaweed as it can be used in feed for sheep, cattle and fish.
Seaweed is also helping to tackle climate change, as it absorbs carbon dioxide.
Sahil Shah, the company’s other co-director added: “Seaweed farms have been deployed successfully all around the world. There is more carbon dioxide absorbed in seaweed than there is in all land-based plants across the globe.”