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Latest marine aggregates dredging reports published

Hanson Thames

The Crown Estate and BMAPA release annual Area Involved report and 2022 Aggregates Review

THE Crown Estate and The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) have published their 24th annual Area Involved report, detailing changes in the area of seabed licensed and dredged for marine aggregates during 2021.

Key information from the report includes:

  • A total of 21 million tonnes of sand and gravel were dredged under Crown Estate licence in England and Wales during 2021 (compared to 18 million tonnes in 2020)
  • The total area of seabed licensed in 2021 was 1,068 sq km (1,055 sq km in 2020)
  • Dredging took place within 106 sq km (10% of the licensed area) compared with 101 sq km (also 10%) in 2020
  • The area of seabed dredged for more than 1h 15mins per year (high intensity – red on charts) was 6 sq km (5 sq km in 2020)
  • 90% of dredging activity carried out under Crown Estate licence took place from an area of 43 sq km (42 sq km in 2020).

Nick Everington, marine minerals portfolio manager for The Crown Estate, said: ‘As manager of the seabed around England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, we work in partnership with industry to help support the sustainable use of sand and gravel resources. The annual Area Involved report is an integral part of this, providing insight and data to improve our understanding and management of the marine environment over the long term. Our 24th annual report reflects the ongoing commitment from both The Crown Estate and industry to this important initiative.’

BMAPA director Mark Russell said: ‘The UK Government has recognized that it is essential there is a sufficient supply of minerals to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy, and goods that our nations need, and marine aggregate supplies play an important role in meeting these needs in England and Wales.

‘The areas of seabed licensed and dredged remain key indicators of the UK marine aggregate sector’s performance and its potential to interact with both the environment and other marine users. The significant reductions in both of these over the last two decades reflect an industry committed to continual improvement.’

The Area Involved initiative commenced in March 1999, when BMAPA and The Crown Estate made a public commitment to review all dredging licences on a rolling five-year basis, to publish an annual report detailing the extent of dredging activities within licensed areas, and to surrender areas no longer containing economically viable resources of marine sand and gravel.

Alongside the Area Involved report, The Crown Estate has also published its 2022 Annual Review of the marine aggregates industry, containing data for the calendar year 2021.

This provides a national and regional view of consented marine aggregate reserves and licensed output capacity, alongside details of the quantity of aggregates dredged, in terms of both extraction and delivery location. It also provides case studies outlining major construction and coastal defence projects in which marine aggregates have been used, and updates on items of wider interest.

Key points from the 2022 report include:

  • There is an estimated national consented reserve of 338 million tonnes of aggregates, enough to meet current average demand levels for the next 21 years
  • Marine aggregates provide more than 20% of the sand and gravel demand in England and Wales, with the majority of supply (nearly 90%) used in high-value ready-mixed concrete and concrete products
  • One-third of all primary aggregate demand in London and the south-east of England is met from marine resources, whilst in South Wales more than 90% of the market demand for natural sand also comes from the sea
  • A total of 4.3 million tonnes of aggregate materials were exported in 2021, primarily to Belgium and The Netherlands.

Marine aggregates constitute a crucial component in the supply of building materials to support the development of the UK’s built environment. They currently supply around 25% of the sand and gravel used across England and Wales. In London, they meet around 50% of primary aggregate demand. They are also critical in developing climate change resilience for coastal communities.

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