The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) have designated a new disposal site for dredged spoil from the Plymouth harbours – effectively bringing to an end the dumping of silt and other contaminants in Whitsand Bay in Cornwall – something local community campaigners have been working towards for many years.
“There are no words to describe the joy that now finally Whitsand Bay is safe, after the continued efforts fuelled by hope over all these years to save Whitsand Bay from being used as a dumpsite” said a statememt from the Stop Dumping in Whitsand Bay Campaign.
“Over 6 million tonnes of contaminated silt have gone into beautiful Whitsand Bay over the past 30 years. The constant knowing that it was so wrong continued to drive us – a community who care – to try to right this wrong. We are very pleased that the authorities have recognised the need to be more responsible; they have considered risks more deeply now and risks to the future, after years of endangering wildlife, health and beauty. With the designation of this new disposal site they have finally stopped the dumping in Whitsand Bay.
In our modern day world there is so much pollution, and if we – a small local community on the Rame Peninsula in South East Cornwall – can save this relatively little area so rich in wildlife through pure, longstanding determination and passionate care, then our hope is that this may be a precedent to future change for others campaigning for the greater good.
Wherever this contaminated silt is dumped it is likely to be a risk, but Whitsand Bay was deemed ‘High Risk’, especially after the designation of the ‘Whitsand and Looe Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in 2013. We are so glad that it is safe now. However this is tinged with hope that this movement of more thoughtful care towards the environment by authorities will continue to change for the better as learning grows.
After a judicial review in 2014 which resulted in the quashing of the then current licence early 2015, a second judicial review was mounted last year to challenge the most recent (February 2016) licences and to keep up the pressure. The decision has been made to abandon the second judicial review that had been stayed since July. Although some specific issues as raised in the second judicial review remain unresolved, it has succeeded in forcing what we were trying to achieve: a new disposal site away from Whitsand Bay.
Whitsand Bay will no longer be spoilt by dredged spoil.
Deb Hoskin of Stop Dumping in Whitsand Bay Campaign: “I organised the first demonstration in 2010 in response to being so distressed and disgusted, afraid for wildlife and people, at hearing about the use of Whitsand Bay as a dumpsite. Our children, who were young then, have used their voices, made posters, stood together with their friends at each demonstration, sang and shouted to be heard, felt disheartened and unheard and still kept going, as we all did. They are now in their late teens and twenties.
Many local families, hundreds of local people together, who see the land and sea of the Rame Peninsula as part of their community, have been long term part of this community campaign. This includes many children and young people, all doing all they could. They are the future generation. Now I can have more hope for the children’s future, for the Planet. How wonderful that they are part of change for the better happening.”
Simone, now 20 said: “I have been part of this campaign since I was tiny and I really hope that the bay that is so close to my heart is safe.”
Tonny Steenhagen: “A seed doesn’t grow into a flower overnight – similarly change doesn’t happen overnight neither. However, with the right nurturing, dedication and care the flower cannot but ultimately fully bloom. This campaign has been a very long one: a seed was planted 17 years ago, at the end of the last millennium. Since then many different people from all walks of life have at various moments put their time and effort into this shining example of a people’s campaign”
Phil Hutty parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems said
“I am extremely pleased that a community led campaign has at last triumphed over the madness that allowed the dumping of dredged material right next to a Marine Conservation Zone in the bay. I am pleased to have played a small part in its success as I was one of the group that brought the original Judicial review together with Cllr Brian Hobbs , Julie Elworthy, Dave Peake and Tonny Steenagen.
However the real champions of this success, has to be the local community that fought so hard for this for many years, often against bureaucrat’s hell bent on maintaining the norm despite ever increasing evidence of harm to the Bay.
My only disappointment is that, it would seem, Sheryll Murray MP is now claiming to have been at the forefront of the campaign when local campaigners know otherwise. We owe a lot to the likes of Dave Peake who has doggedly fought for this for over twenty years and Tonny Steenagen and his partner Deb Hoskin who started the second Judicial review together with the countless fundraisers and supporters and I am disappointed that Mrs Murray has so far failed to reflect this on her Facebook page and press release”
So what’s #shamefulsheryll been up to now? Well she’s boasted that it would never have happened without her. The statement her rival is referring to reads:
“I am pleased to see the proposed new disposal site for dredged material from the River Tamar, to be known as Plymouth Deep, is the optimal, sustainable alternative disposal site for dredged material. I have been working towards this since my days at Caradon District Council, Cornwall County Council and before as my Constituents will know and press reports will confirm. I have been in close contact with both the Minister and the Chief Executive of the MMO and facilitated very many meetings with both Ministers and Shadow Ministers and Public meetings since the 1990’s.
When first elected as the MP in 2010, I arranged for Ministers to meet with Campaigners.
Due to the large amount of work I have put into making this happen I have not been able to notify every constituent of every step along the route but am pleased that at last my efforts have proved fruitful”