22 June 2016 – Brightlingsea, Essex, UK – Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners (BHC) have announced further details of their forthcoming four year dredging and saltmarsh restoration programme and the successful completion of dredging at Waterside Marina, Brightlingsea.
The Waterside Marina Brightlingsea dredge was managed by BHC as part of the preparation for its recent successful sale at auction. Its incorporation into BHC’s overall dredging plans brought several benefits including the opportunity to evaluate a tidal sedimentary dispersal system. Detailed monitoring of both water quality and sediment accumulation around the harbour prior to, during and after the dredge revealed that the operation was highly successful with no noteworthy deposition of sediment and water quality remaining well above recommended levels at all times.
Planning for the main Harbour dredge and its associated saltmarsh restoration programme, which will utilise the material dredged from the harbour as the foundation for restored saltmarsh, is already underway and work will continue until 2020. BHC has joined forces with partners in England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium who are in turn part of the European Using Sediment As a Resouce (USAR) Project. USAR aims to introduce a resource-efficient approach to dredging, based on the potential for re-use of dredged sediments in a number of novel applications. The programme is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and as a result some 60% of BHC’s total cost of circa £750, 000 will be grant funded.
BHC is working with leading international dredging consultants, Exo Environmental, who will manage the project and provide the required technical expertise. Exo Environmental’s Director William Coulet explained; “The four-year programme will be divided into stages with the timing of each phase calculated to mitigate impact on harbour users, wildlife and the marine ecosystem, whilst at the same time maximising the efficiency of the dredging operation. “We are already testing novel solutions to retain the dredged material in place while the saltmarsh regenerates and the sediment stabilises. The desire is to introduce a minimum of non-native materials into the harbour, therefore amongst the systems being tested will be oyster-shell filled gabions, allowing us to utilise one of the harbour’s historic and most plentiful natural resources.
“From Autumn 2016 dredging will commence in earnest with phase one covering the main entrance and access channel to Brightlingsea Creek and restoration of saltmarsh on Cindery Island. Subsequent dredges will cover the harbour’s north and south channels and additional areas of saltmarsh on the mainland shores. By 2020 we anticipate having achieved the required depths throughout the harbour, removed an estimated 80, 000 cubic metres of dredged material and regenerated and protected approximate 8ha of saltmarsh. We will then move into a long-term maintenance dredging programme, safeguarding the Harbour for the future.”
Jim Addison, Chairman of Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners, added; “This is an exciting opportunity for the Harbour. Silt accumulation is a significant issue for all harbours on the British East Coast and we have also lost a very significant area of saltmarsh in recent decades, which is essential for both flood protection and the marine environment’s natural balance. This opportunity to address both issues, whilst at the same time gaining vital data and experience to enable us to manage the harbour long term, is invaluable. Our European partners are contributing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the partnership, whilst the grant funding means we can complete a much more extensive programme than we originally planned. This project will bring clear benefits to both harbour users and local residents, and will set out maintenance objectives for the future.”