The Crown Estate has today announced the provisional results of its 2021/22 marine aggregates tender round, which closed at the beginning of January.
Following a bid assessment process, The Crown Estate has selected 12 areas of seabed as potentially suitable for the extraction of marine aggregates, all of which lie within English waters. This is an increase from eight areas selected in the 2018/19 tender round, reflecting the highest level of market interest for over a decade.
All 12 areas remain subject to the outcome of a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) process, which is likely to be concluded in early 2023. After this, The Crown Estate would offer successful bidders initial six-year exploration and option agreements. Successful bidders will also be required to obtain statutory permission in the form of a Marine Licence from the regulator (the Marine Management Organisation) prior to any extraction taking place.
Nick Everington, Portfolio Manager (Minerals), at The Crown Estate said:
“As managers of the seabed around England, Northern Ireland and Wales, we recognise the responsibility we have as the custodian of marine sand and gravel resources and work closely with industry to develop best practice in the sector.
“We have seen an increase in interest from industry in this latest tender round, against a backdrop of growing constraints in the extraction of aggregate from land-based sources. This tender round will pave the way for continued access to a crucial component in the building supply chain.”
Marine aggregates constitute a critical component in the supply of building materials, and currently supply around 25 per cent of the sand and gravel used across England and Wales. In London, they meet around 50 per cent of primary aggregate demand.
Resources from the seabed are currently contributing to important projects around the country including Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and the HS2 high-speed rail line, as well as coastal protection schemes such as between Mablethorpe and Skegness in Lincolnshire.
In September, The Crown Estate published two key reports on aggregates dredging activity: the Area Involved 24th annual report (in conjunction with BMAPA) and the Marine Aggregates Annual Review 2022. You can access these and other relevant pages in the resources section below.