Marine Management Organisation
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) received a Marine Licence application (MLA/2018/00527) in December 2018 to carry out works for cliff protection measures to reduce erosion rate and recession line of the affected cliffs. The licence application requested that works be licensed from September 2019 to October 2020. The application made reference to a planning application, but did not state what the planning application was for, or give any details e.g. reference numbers.
A previous Marine Licence application was submitted to the MMO (MLA/2015/00189/1) for similar works. This licence (L/2015/00254/1) was temporarily suspended as new information relating to bats was presented to the MMO, which called into question whether the ecology of the site had been fully addressed when the application was determined. The MMO varied the licence to include additional conditions to manage and mitigate risk to ecological assets and the licence was reinstated. No works were completed and the licence expired.
Application MLA/2018/00527 included a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, Water Framework Directive Assessment, Environmental Assessment on Proposed Cliff Protection Scheme report, and a Geotechnical Assessment Options Report. As outlined in the latter report, the works would comprise filling the sea caves with mass concrete which would involve concrete blocks being secured with rock bolts to the cliff. Temporary sheet piling would be installed to the cliff toe to allow de-watering works to the sea caves. The activity would take three months to complete.
Environmental Impact Assessment
On review of the application the MMO requested that the applicant submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening Opinion request as the proposed works are capable of falling within Section 69 of Schedule A2 of the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 since they constitute Coastal work to combat erosion and maritime works capable of altering the coast.
Based on the information submitted by the applicant at the time, the MMO conducted a Screening Opinion (EIA/2019/00003), which screened the works out of requiring an EIA under the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017. The MMO proceeded with the Marine Licence application on the basis that it did not require an EIA.
Due to the proposed work sites proximity (approximately 330 metres) from the Bristol Channel Approaches Special Area of Conservation (SAC) a Habitats Regulations Assessment was carried out. This SAC is designated to help maintain a Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) for harbour porpoise in the UKs waters. The HRA concluded that the works were not likely to result in a significant effect on the harbour porpoise. A Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) assessment was also carried out by the MMO as the Newquay and the Gannel MCZ is approximately 200 metres from the site of works using the most direct pathway or approximately 700 metres away around the headland. This MCZ is designated to protect a variety of coastal sediments. The MMO did not consider that the proposed works would hinder the conservation objectives of the MCZ.
Following an initial internal assessment, the case proceeded to consultations under Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. In addition to consulting the public, the MMO also consulted the following bodies:
- Cornwall Council
- The Crown Estate
- Duchy of Cornwall
- Environment Agency
- Historic England
- Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency
- Local MMO office (south west marine area)
- Ministry of Defence
- Natural England
- Royal Yachting Association
- Trinity House
The MMO received in excess of 200 public representations for this case. From these responses the MMO learned that the application was to support a housing development on top of the cliff. The MMO decided that further information was required from the applicant to address matters raised by the consultees. This was in relation to:
- Project methodology
- Nature conservation and ecology
- Heritage impacts
- Planning and consents
- Navigational impact
- Local value and tourism
- Coastal processes
Request for further information
The MMO issued a request for further information to the applicant on 28 August 2019 and met with the applicant 12 September 2019 to discuss this further. Given the matters outstanding, the applicant was advised the issues must be fully addressed before the MMO would consider the application any further. The applicant was also advised further survey work related to the points above would be required to support the application.
The MMO are continuing to liaise with the applicant and are awaiting the application update to be submitted.
MMO update January 2020
The MMO has yet to receive the further information requested from the applicant on 28 August 2019 and the case remains on hold.
MMO update August 2020
The MMO has received information from the applicant following the Request for Further Information issued in August 2019. The MMO is in the process of reviewing this information and may be minded to carry out consultation on the information provided, once the internal review has been completed. Further updates will be published in due course.