Hundreds say no to Whitsand dumping
MORE than 300 people joined forces to call for an end to the controversial dumping of dredged material at Whitsand Bay.
Campaigners, councillors and families came together at Rame Head, near Torpoint, on Saturday for the protest.
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.
An application for another two-year licence to keep dredging and dumping has now been lodged with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which said it is under consideration.
The present dumping site at Rame Head is just 700 metres south from a recently-designated Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), which was declared as a protected zone on November 21.
Deb Hoskin, a mother of three of Millbrook, organised the protest.
Mrs Hoskin said: "The demonstration has definitely put pressure for something to be done about the dumping.
"So many people turning up has made it a focal point.
"If the dumping is stopped I won't have to be scared for my children.
"There were people across all ages and about 50 young people, which has shown the community's feelings towards dumping.
"That area needs to be a protected area because of the sealife within it, such as corals and sea anemones."
Six councillors from the surrounding areas attended the protest and have asked for an urgent meeting with the Conservative Environment Minister, MP George Eustice, to ask him to reconsider dumping at the site.
The councillors that attended the demonstration included Cornwall councillor for West Looe Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall councillor for East Looe Armand Toms and Cornwall councillor for Trelawny Jim Candy.
The area down to Looe Bay was last year designated as an MCZ, and Mrs Hannaford said: "We are calling on the MMO to delay the approval of the latest application to dump until the full impact of dredged materials on the newly designated Looe Bay Marine Conservation Zone has been properly assessed."
Mr Toms said: "Although we both accept that maintaining the operational effectiveness of Devonport Dockyard is important, we are concerned about the environmental impacts."
Up to 337,000 tonnes of dredged material will be dumped off Rame Head over the next two years, if the licence is granted.
Six million tonnes of waste has been dumped off Rame Head so far. Around 100 years ago it was used as ammunitions dump site.
A safer site has been identified about half a mile further out to sea.
Environmental groups including the Rame Peninsular Beach Care Group (RPBCG) joined the campaign.
The Stop Dumping at Whitsand Bay campaign manager, David Peake said: "Around 300 people formed a line and stood up for Whitsand Bay.
"The protest should be noted by decision-makers.
"The toxic silt contains elevated levels of contaminants, which is having a negative effect on wildlife, particularly the seabed habitat and the sea reefs.
"The bay has had enough and it's time to rethink dumping there as there are alternatives."
A spokesman for the MMO said: "Disposal of dredged material at sea is a last resort and strictly controlled.
"It is only permitted where no alternative means of disposal is practical and as part of the application process applicants must demonstrate they have explored other alternatives.
"An application has been made to dispose of material at the Rame Head site, which we are currently considering.
"We must ensure our decisions are made in line with relevant laws and based on the best available evidence, as is required by legislation."