Good practice

In order to avoid, minimise and address potential environmental impacts arising from their operations, ports and harbours operating within or near marine SACs should:

  • Prepare contracts which meet the requirements of all licenses, consents and agreements applicable.
  • Fully brief contractors prior to the commencement of dredging and disposal works. Contractor method statements for operations should be agreed by the port or harbour before the works are allowed to proceed. Consideration should be given to:
  • hydrodynamic conditions at the excavation and disposal location,
  • marine features for which the site was designated, if appropriate areas which are particularly sensitive to the effects of dredging at specific times of year, and
  • particular areas of the dredging and disposal operations where contractor error can cause adverse effects on marine features.
  • Endeavour to regularly monitor the operations of the contractor during dredging and disposal activities.
  • Ensure that dredging is undertaken in a manner that limits, as far as practically possible, the disturbance and dispersion of sediments from the dredger and barges, during dredging operations and transport.
  • Consider timing of operation to avoid or minimise environmental effects. Seek guidance from local country conservation agencies, and other environmental agencies where relevant, on the identification of the most appropriate times to undertake dredging to avoid or minimise disturbance to marine habitats, particularly sensitive animals, such as shellfish, young and migratory fish and over wintering waterfowl. But common sense must be applied and full consideration given to seasonal operational constraints.
  • Ensure that the most suitable dredging equipment (BATNEEC) is used in order to minimise the suspension of any fine sediments and contaminants at the dredge site, where considered appropriate.
  • Consider investigating practical means of reducing the amounts of material dredged, where possible.
  • Use the best practicable environmental option for the disposal of dredged material, promoting its beneficial use or disposal within the sedimentary system wherever practical.
  • Investigate the possibility of using dredged material for intertidal recharge schemes to combat erosion of intertidal habitats caused by coastal squeeze and rising sea levels. Seeking advice from country conservation agencies, licensing authorities and the environment agencies who will take a long-term view of such proposals and localised short-term damage will be accepted where there are long-term benefits, in terms of sustainable management of broader areas of intertidal habitats.
  • Consider establishing post dredge monitoring programmes to verify the effect of dredging and disposal on marine ecology and sediment regimes, where MAFF have identified potentially sensitive features to be monitored if considered necessary.
  • Endeavour to keep organised, up-to–date records of dredging operations, incorporating data from regular hydrographic surveys, which may have the following benefits:
  • the need to dredge, or otherwise, can be clearly demonstrated,
  • the possible identification of areas within ports and harbours where dredging can be reduced, or not undertaken at all, and
  • the collation of this information eases the path to the renewal of dredging licences.
  • Consider carefully the proposal of dredging methods in the port or harbour which are not presently regulated under the FEPA licensing process, such as water injection dredging, sea bed levelling and agitation dredging, and where practical, undertake the above recommendations to minimise the potential impacts. Furthermore, ports and harbours should consider consulting the country conservation agencies when these types of dredging are proposed within the port area to ensure that nature conservation considerations are taken into account.
  • Feed all available data back into SAC management scheme.

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