CAMPAIGNERS are furious that an application for a new licence has been made to dump waste off the South East Cornwall coast – a newly-declared Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).
Boskalis Westminster Ltd, on behalf of Her Majesty's Naval Base in Devonport, which holds a licence due to run out in January 2014, has applied for a new two-year licence to dump dredged sludge from Plymouth in Whitsand Bay.
Stop Dumping Off Whitsand Bay campaign manager Dave Peake said: "It seems ludicrous to dump contaminated levels of waste right next to a conservation area.
"The boundaries of the disposal areas and the MCZ are extremely close, and now is the time for the regulator, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and stakeholders to take this into account, find an alternative, and immediately stop dumping in the beautiful Whitsand Bay. They should be protecting our seas, coast, beaches and reefs – not continually polluting, contaminating and degrading them."
According to Mr Peake, under the terms of the licence hundreds of thousands of tons of dredged material will be dredged from areas of the Dockyard Port of Plymouth.
This material is known to be contaminated with elevated levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH).
Whitsand Bay has historically been used for 100 years as a disposal area, according to Mr Peake.
The Rame Peninsular Beach Care Group (RPBCG) works to keep beaches clean of pollution and to protect wildlife.
RPBCG chairman Claire Wallerstein said: "From our perspective it's absolutely gutting that we are working so hard and at the same time the authorities are dumping toxic sludge onto rare species that do need protection, because that's why there's a MCZ next to it. We can't clean the water – the only way we can clean it up is to stop dumping in our sea water."
At a public meeting nearly three years ago, the MP for South East Cornwall, Sheryll Murray, set up a committee to regularly meet with the regulator MMO to discuss the issues.
However, the committee has now stopped meeting after a stalemate with the authorities.