Falmouth harbour dredging plans are blocked

Falmouth docks and harbour
Image caption Harbour bosses say dredging is needed so bigger ships can use the port

A £20m plan to dredge the entrance to Falmouth harbour has been blocked over fears for the marine environment.

The government's Marine Management Organisation said dredging could harm maerl [algae] beds which act as a nursery for commercial fish stocks.

Falmouth's harbour commissioners said dredging was needed so bigger ships could use the port.

The ruling has been welcomed by local groups including the area's oyster protection association.

'Mixed-use port'

The harbour's commissioners said in 2009 they were committed to plans to dredge the harbour and remove tonnes of silt from the seabed.

Their chairman, Dave Ellis, said the harbour's future could be at stake if the work was not carried out.

He said: "The port won't stop overnight, but I think everybody would recognise that the long-term prospects for it are not going to be good.

"Falmouth has always been a commercial working port, as well as a port for the sailing fraternity.

"As its harbour commissioners, we are committed to keeping this as a mixed-use port."

The ruling has been welcomed by Tim Vinnicombe, chairman of the oyster protection association.

He said: "All the fishermen have great concern for anything that may pollute the fishery.

"If we disturb all the sediment in the lower reaches, and if we have a strong flood that comes towards the oysters - or any other shellfish - it can have a detrimental effect."

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