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Increasing interest in marine aggregates

Marine aggregates

The Crown Estate confirms areas selected for 2018/19 marine aggregate tender round

THE Crown Estate has today [8 April] announced the provisional results of its 2018/19 marine aggregates tender round, which closed at the end of October.

Eight areas of seabed have been selected as potentially suitable for the extraction of marine aggregates, seven of which lie within English waters, with one area overlapping English and Welsh waters. This shortlist has been announced following a bid assessment process undertaken by The Crown Estate.

The 2018/19 marine aggregates tender round has delivered an increase in the potential numbers of areas selected compared with previous years, with five areas selected in the last tender round in 2016/17. This reflects increased interest from industry, with this latest tender process receiving the highest level of market interest for more than a decade.

All of the eight areas remain subject to the outcome of a Habitats Regulations Assessment process, which is likely to be concluded in summer 2019, following which The Crown Estate would offer successful bidders initial five-year exploration and option agreements. Successful bidders will also be required to obtain statutory permission in the form of a Marine Licence from the regulator prior to any extraction taking place.

Although more potential areas have been selected in this tender round, analysis undertaken by the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) and The Crown Estate indicates that should all eight areas progress to aggregate extraction there would still be a reduction in the overall area of seabed being licensed.

Marine aggregates constitute a critical component in the supply of building materials, and currently supply around 25% of the sand and gravel used across England and Wales. In London, they meet around 50% of primary aggregate demand.

Resources from the seabed are currently contributing to important projects around the country, such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the Liverpool 2 container terminal as well as coastal-protection schemes, eg between Mablethorpe and Skegness, in Lincolnshire.

Nick Everington, portfolio manager for marine minerals at The Crown Estate, commented: ‘As managers of the seabed around England, Northern Ireland and Wales, we take our role as careful stewards of this resource very seriously and work in partnership with industry to help support the sustainable use of sand and gravel resources.

‘This latest tender round has shown increased interest from industry in affording continuity of supply of a crucial component in the building material supply chain, against increasing constraints around extraction of aggregate from land-based sources.’

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