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Protest to take place against dumping of "toxic silt" by MOD near conservation area in Whitsand Bay

By tobymeyjes  |  Posted: January 04, 2014

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Polhawn Cove, Whitsand Bay, Cornwall. Part of a new Marine Conservation Zone.

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A Westcountry community is preparing to take a stand against the continued dumping of dredged material from a naval base just off their local beach.

Protesters will gather at Rame Head on Saturday January 18 in opposition to the dumping of thousands of tonnes of “toxic silt” off Whitsand Bay – a recently established marine conservation zone.

Contractors, working on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, have dumped dredged material from Devonport Royal Naval Base and surrounding locations, at the site for years.

A fresh application for another two year licence to keep dredging and dumping at the location was lodged last month.

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A decision is due to be made in early 2014 but opponents have identified an alternative site they say is safer and where the landscape is silt, a mile off shore.

Group leader Deb Hoskin, who organised a similar demonstration on the beach two years ago, said: “Many locals and visiting tourists feel and act with a responsibility to the environment, from swimmers, to walkers, to fishermen and divers, caring by keeping the beaches and seas clean themselves; beach cleans have been happening regularly in all weathers.

“At the same time, this horrendous dumping is taking place, devastating much of the sea life. It has to stop.”

The last dredge took place on March 22 last year and the new application predicts that 367,000 tonnes will be extracted over the two-year licence period.

The application, by Boskalis Westminster Ltd, also admits the proposed disposal site fell within a conservation area.

The Marine Management Organisation said last month it expects to make a decision by early 2014, following a 28 day public consultation period which ended last month.

The protest will begin at midday on Saturday January 18.

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