Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset

February 26, 2005
Official dredging investigation begins in Burnham-On-Sea Bay

The Environment Agency is conducting an investigation into the effects that sand dredging is having on Burnham's tidal estuary.

The Environment Agency's survey boat in Burnham-On-Sea this weekA team from the Agency was spotted in a survey boat (pictured) as the work got under way.

It comes amid concern from some residents that the removal of large quantities of sand and silt from the Bristol Channel could lead to Burnham's beach being starved of sand or, even worse, the town's sea defences being undermined.

The Environment Agency's Mike Dunning told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "We're exploring what impact - if any - the dredging in the Bristol Channel is having on the sea bed in Burnham and along the River Parret."

"We can't say at this stage whether the dredging is having an impact or not. This is an ongoing project and the results may not be known for some time."

The Agency's survey vessel, which is based at Portishead, near Bristol, is the only boat of its kind to perform the work.

The team onboard are based at the Environment Agency's Science and Technology Unit in Bath and are performing a number of soundings and measurements to assess whether the shape and depth of the channel is changing.

Mike Dunning added: "Changes in the sea bed can be influenced by several factors - the amount of silt and sand that is being removed in the area or, more simply, water flows and tides."

Huge amounts of sand and silt are taken from the Bristol Channel each year to be used in making building materials for the construction industry.

The Agency's work will continue in coming weeks.

Following publication of this article, the Environment Agency asked us to point out that the arrival of the Agency's survey vessel off Burnham was part of routine survey work, similar to that carried out along other stretches of the UK coastline.


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