Sprey Point update

Statement: Sprey Point

After ongoing constructive engagement between myself, the Marine Management Organisation and other stakeholders, I am pleased that the variation of the licence for the silt dumping at the Exmouth Marina has now been amended to ensure this silt is no longer transferred to the beaches at Teignmouth. This has been a long but essential fight to ensure that these award-winning beaches remain both welcoming tourist attractions and key parts of the local economy.

Collaboration has been key to enabling us to reach this point in the process, and it has been a real pleasure to work alongside the Costal team at Teignbridge District Council, local Councillors and residents to ensure that all avenues have been explored in pursuit of resolving this issue and preventing similar environmental accidents happening again. I am now extremely hopeful that this decision will bring to an end any impact on the beach and local community.

Whilst I appreciate that all authorities are obliged to keep their harbours clean and therefore in good working order, this should not be at the detriment to our beautiful local environment: the beaches, the sea life, flora and fauna. This was especially clear in this case, with the potential impact that the dumping at Sprey Point had on the local seahorse population, which is known to include the extremely rare short snouted seahorse. Such a loss to local biodiversity would have been an absolute travesty. There were also clear concerns regarding the health and safety of the public as well as their pets. I am glad that this aspect has now been taken into account.

This process has exposed the difficulties that various statutory agencies have in working cohesively together. Each agency has its own responsibilities, but without a clear mandate that empowers these organisations to operate under a structured framework. This invariably leads to confusion, delays and a lack of decision making. All agencies need to work on a statutory basis, and this is something I have raised time and again with the relevant Government departments and will continue to fight for.

I will continue to prioritise the work with all concerned to establish a radical overhaul of the Cefas testing system. The dumping of Exmouth silt at Teignmouth has clearly demonstrated that, under the current circumstances, the legislation is not fit for purpose and actively works against a sustainable social, economic and environmental agenda for the region and indeed the UK.