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England's environment agency releases new sediment guidance

2021-11-15 Charlie Bartlett

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Photo credit: By Operational Land Imager -, Public Domain.

As operators begin to pay more attention to the ongoing maintenance of habitats and coastal biodiversity as part of their dredging works, the Environment Agency has launched a new handbook on the subject of nourishing beaches and estuaries using dredged sediment.

Following on from guides on restoring saltmarsh, seagrass and other habitats, Restoring Estuarine and Coastal Habitats with Dredged Sediment focuses on geomorphological and physical prerequisites for restoring coastal areas, including a review of existing methods, a guide to regulatory and marine licensing aspects, as well as examining existing case studies.

Aimed at a range of individuals and organisations including local communities and coastal partnerships, policy makers, nature conservation bodies and other interested parties, the guide aims to assist operators in overcoming the legal and technical barriers to putting dredged sediment to better use, with guidance regarding key considerations and strategic planning to aid project delivery.

The guide also contains the Environment Agency’s recommendations for collaboration between stakeholders.

Interest in sediment reuse is growing, with experts anticipating myriad benefits for encouraging regrowth of deprecated marine ecosystems for carbon sequestration, as well as in terms of coastal defence against rising sea levels. It may be that in many cases, creating sandbanks and other structures can hold back the tides more effectively than concrete structures, eliminate the imbued carbon costs, as well as enabling ecosystems either to grow, or grow back. Recently, Scotland announced the start of a £2.4m project for the restoration of seagrass meadows and oyster reefs off its east coast, in a plan dubbed “Restoration Forth”.