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Petitions

Volume 534: debated on Thursday 3 November 2011

Petition

Thursday 3 November 2011

Observations

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Port of Falmouth Masterplan

The Petition of the residents of Falmouth,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the dredging of Falmouth Harbour should be permitted to go ahead so as to enable the implementation of the Port of Falmouth Masterplan which is essential to the future prosperity of Falmouth.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that the Marine Management Organisation strikes the appropriate balance between environmental protection and social and economic development, with particular regard to the Port of Falmouth Masterplan including the dredging of Falmouth Harbour.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sarah Newton, Official Report, 13 September 2011; Vol. 532, c. 1008.]

[P000958]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

The Government recognise the important role that ports, such as Falmouth, play in the economy and social heritage of their local communities. A Port Masterplan, prepared in consultation between operators, customers and neighbours, should describe a vision for a port’s future, helping to guide a port’s development in sympathy with the environment.

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is required to manage its activities with the objective of making a contribution to sustainable development, in a consistent manner and taking account of all relevant facts and matters. The MMO must consider specific statutory guidance in this regard. Draft guidance was laid before the House in March last year, before being published in its current version, in October. The guidance states the five high-level marine objectives which are: achieving a sustainable marine economy; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; using sound science responsibly, promoting good governance and living within environmental limits.

The MMO must have regard to the high-level marine objectives when considering and making decisions about how best to integrate economic, environmental and social considerations. The MMO should seek, wherever possible, to deliver integrated solutions that are underpinned by all five principles. Its decisions should be impartial and based on best available evidence, taking into account the potential benefits and anticipated adverse impacts (which may be economic, environmental and/or social). It will also need to ensure its decision complies with statutory requirements under UK and EU legislation (including the Habitats Directive) and is consistent with our international obligations.

It would be inappropriate for me to interfere in the decisions of the MMO in individual cases. However, I am confident that the MMO will properly weigh all considerations, before coming to its final decision on the Falmouth dredging proposals.