Wreck to Reef Update, November 2011

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Three major events have occurred recently. The first is that the moratorium imposed in British waters on artificial reefs since HMS Scylla was scuttled near Plymouth in order to assess whether there is any detrimental effect on the environment has now been lifted by the secretary of State for the Environment. This has now paved the way for the deployment of further artificial reefs and allowed the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to sanction artificial reefs.The second is that the Weymouth and Portland Wreck to Reef Marine Licence Application to the MMO has been successful.
The Marine Licence applies to all four reefs included within the W2R project; two ships, one lobster restocking reef and one quarry reef. This will cover a five year period, starting from November 4th 2011.The third is that the Crown Estate has granted W2R ‘Early Occupation’ of the seabed whilst seabed lease details are being finalised with the Dorset County Council Legal Department.

The lobster restocking reef can now be started immediately but MMO Marine Licence conditions preclude any further reef deployment until after the closure of the Olympic/Para Olympic Games (on 9th September, 2012).

In the meantime, W2R have upped-the-anti in their efforts to obtain a ship by Governmental Deed of Gift. Charles Clover, Blue Marine Foundation founder and trustee and respected Sunday Times environmental reporter has started the campaign by devoting his column, two weeks ago, to highlighting the economic and environmental benefits of scuttling ships as artificial reefs instead of cutting them up for razor blades. Charles has suggested that Whitehall’s brightest minds should be set to addressing this task. Since then, Richard Drax MP has submitted our request directly to the Secretary of Defence for re-consideration. We have made it clear that a negative answer is not acceptable in the light of the economic evidence that we have produced to support this Deed of Gift idea; within the next few days we expect to have an economic paper produced by a leading City Economist which will render our case irrefutable.

As a belt and braces approach, W2R has arranged a meeting on the 25th of November with Oliver Letwin MP, Minister for Policy, whose West Dorset constituency is actually geographically the nearest to the W2R seabed area. Should there be a need, Oliver will be asked to re-present our case to government.

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