Levington: Dredged silt from Suffolk Yacht Harbour to aid saltmarsh
Boat builders and conservationists have teamed up to restore an ecologically-important wetland for rare wildlife using unwanted material dredged from a marina.
Suffolk Yacht Harbour plans to rejuvenate the declining saltmarsh at Levington, near Ipswich, by enriching it with the thousands of tonnes of silt it removes each year but has previously discharged onshore.
Jonathan Dyke, the harbour’s managing director, believes the project will benefit the rare species birds which rely on the saltmarsh as well as the coastal visitors who appreciate its natural beauty “It’s a really exciting project,” he said. “I think it’s a great example of a business working with the environment to give something back.
“These sort of schemes, which can maintain and, where possible, improve upon the natural environment, are absolutely fundamental in keeping Suffolk a beautiful place to live and visit.”
While conceding to be “no environmentalist,” Mr Dyke said there has been a “positive groundswell” over recent years which has seen many more coastal businesses begin to recognise the importance of supporting conservation projects.
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“The silt has been disappearing from the saltmarsh, regardless of whether the marina is in existence, or not,” he said. “But marinas have a great opportunity to put that silt back from whence it came and rebuild the inter-tidal wetland to support wildlife.”
Suffolk Yacht Harbour’s application to the Marine Management Organisation to “undertake beneficial dredging” for the restoration of the saltmarsh was submitted in partnership with the Stour & Orwell Estuaries Management Group. If approved, work is expected to begin “within months” using the same low-impact equipment employed by the harbour for its annual maintenance dredging.
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Natural England, the Environment Agency, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Harwich Haven Authority and Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB all support the project.