The Marine Management Organisation is investigating claims that contractors breached the conditions of a licence granted to dump silt, dredged from a naval dockyard, in Whitsand Bay.
Campaigners claim the contractors, working on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), failed to give enough prior notice before beginning to dump the dredged material, from HMS Devonport in Plymouth, last weekend.
According to legislation, up to 14 days’ working notice needs to be given to mariners before dredging can begin.
However, campaigners claim that work began last weekend, within two days of the licence being granted on March 7.
The dumping of dredged material at Whitsand Bay has been met with strong opposition in the past.
Critics say the silt harms marine life and seawater quality, however the MoD has said dredging is essential to its work at the dockyard.
Dave Peake, a local diver and prominent campaigner against the dumping of dredged material in Whitsand Bay, said he believed the MMO was right to start investigating.
“It’s a blatant arrogance,” he said. “I feel that there has been a double breach of the licence conditions.
“I have asked the MMO to suspend and revoke the license until this is all sorted out.
“The licence is issued on March 7, but work began on March 8 and 9, how can the correct amount of prior notice have been given?”
Millions of tonnes of silt has been dumped off Rame Head in Whitsand Bay in recent years, but critics include South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray, who has called for a different site to be used.
A new two-year licence was granted to Westminster Dredging Company Limited earlier this month to deposit up to 337,000 tonnes of silt at the dump site despite significant protest from campaigners.
The terms of the licence require ‘local mariners and fishermen’s organisations’ to be given two weeks’ notice prior to the start of works.
It also states that the local district marine officer be informed of the proposed start date, no less than five days before it begins.
A spokesman for the MMO said that its investigations are ongoing in to the claims.
She said: “We are aware of the issues raised by local residents regarding licence conditions and the notice to mariners and are currently investigating these.”
But the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which oversees the work, claimed that the situation has been reviewed and dredging work now completed.
A spokesman said: “As required under the licence – a ‘Notice to Mariners’ advising vessels of the dredging operations was published in advance of dredging being carried out.
“Whilst this was less than the required notice period contained within the licence when issued on March 7, mariners were advised of the activity and no navigation incidents were reported.
“The MMO had reviewed the situation and confirmed that dredging works could continue. Dredging works are now completed.”