A LEADING environmental campaign group has raised serious concerns over multi-million pound plans to begin mining the north Cornish coastline.
Marine Minerals Limited (MML) has submitted exploratory drilling plans on a stretch of coastline from St Ives to Perranporth to collect tin from the seabed.
The company said the £15 million scheme which would see the firm dredge as close as 200 meters from the shore could bring dozens of jobs to the county.
But Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) said the programme could create irreparable damage and could have a serious detrimental impact on surfing, tourism and fishing.
SAS campaign director Andy Cummins said he had concerns over coastal processes, reanimating pollutants and flora and fauna.
He said: "Removing and replacing several millions of tonnes of sediment has the potential to disrupting the natural build-up of sediment, which plays a vital role in encouraging waves to break offshore, dissipating the majority of the wave's energy before the waves reach the shore.
"Premier surf spots along this coast rely on the build-up of sand which has had thousands of years to compact and it naturally moves inlands in the summer and outwards in the winter.
"When it is disturbed you loosen it creating pockets which makes it unstable. We do not know how the sand will react or behave when it is returned and we could get powerful dumping waves which could significantly reduce the quality of surfing and impair the beach experience for local residents and tourists."
Mr Cummins also said disrupting the sediment could reanimate pathogens associated with combined sewer overflow discharges and heavy metals used in mining.
It could also impact biodiversity in the area putting seals, sharks, dolphins and crustaceans at risk.
Mr Cummins added: "The way this application must go ahead is that it has to look at the worst case scenario because we feel the cost and benefits are not on par with the thousands of jobs associated with surfing, fishing and tourism that could be negatively affected."
MML said that tin reserves were found at Ives Bay (14.71km2), Porthtowan (7.19 km2) and Perran (12.68km2).
In total the company proposes to extract around two million tonnes per year over a minimum of a ten year period.
Public consultation on the plans will close on Friday.
A petition against the dredging proposal can be found at www.protectourwaves.org.uk.