We are committed to understanding and minimising the potential impact of aggregate extraction on the marine environment.

Despite the small area of seabed affected, we recognise the potential impacts on the marine environment and are committed to understanding and minimising the effects of marine aggregate dredging. We regularly devote funding to research projects and we collaborate closely with associated organisations.

One of the main benefits of using marine sourced aggregate is that ships can deliver aggregates directly to wharves in urban areas. This eliminates transport by road, thereby reducing congestion and pollution. In 2004 it is estimated that deliveries by ship saved 340,000 lorry trips in London alone.

The Ten-Year Review of Annual Area of Seabed Dredged, published in conjunction with BMAPA, details the extent of annual dredging activity between 1998 and 2007 and outlines the changes in distribution of both the area of seabed licensed and the area of seabed dredged. It highlights our and the industry's commitment to sustainable management of marine aggregate resources and the changes brought about through voluntary good practice initiatives.

There are frequent media articles regarding changes to receding coastline and reduction in volume of sand on beaches. These changes can be large and can occur quite rapidly. Inevitably, such changes cause concern amongst local communities who fear loss of land and property, coastal flooding, damage to local businesses that rely on tourism and general damage to the environment in an amenity sense. In parts of the country where marine aggregate dredging occurs close to, and sometimes within sight of, areas experiencing coastal erosion, the media articles frequently quote dredging as the prime cause of the coastal changes.

Our position is that:

  • we understand the concerns of stakeholders with respect to coastal erosion.
  • we know of no evidence whatsoever that links licensed marine aggregate dredging to enhanced coastal erosion or loss of material from beaches. There is good evidence for the lack of impact.
  • the approval of an application for dredging by regulators includes a detailed examination of the potential impacts on the coast.
  • regulatory approval for a scheme of dredging is accompanied by strict conditions with regard to the area to be dredged and monitoring of changes to the marine environment.
  • we only grant a licence for aggregate dredging after a positive marine licence or permission for a particular scheme has been received from the regulator.
  • as seabed mineral owner, we periodically examine the available scientific evidence and fund studies to ensure that it is up to date with the latest available knowledge.

For further information relating to the marine aggregate industry, and listing other research projects, please visit the BMAPA website: