The Solent is an active focus for the aggregates industry, this activity can be divided into two functions:
- Extraction of aggregates off the south east coast of the Isle of Wight, and in Christchurch Bay.
- Landing of aggregates, including both marine dredged material and imported crushed rock. Landing for use on the mainland takes place at a number of wharves on the Rivers Itchen and Test, and at Portsmouth and Langstone Harbours. Marine aggregates are supplied to the Isle of Wight via wharves at Cowes and Newport.
Trends in demand for aggregates are principally governed by the market responding to the construction industry, such as housing and road building. Marine aggregates are also used in beach replenishment schemes. Large volumes of aggregates are pumped directly from dredgers onto beaches, providing coastal protection as well as enhancing the amenity value and therefore the economy of an area.
The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) and The Crown Estate have published a ‘Fifteen-Year Review’ which provides a unique overview of the changes in the area of seabed licensed and dredged between 1998 and 2012, enabling greater understanding of the nation’s marine mineral dredging activity and more sustainable management over the long term. It follows the fifteen-year anniversary, in 2013, of the ‘Area Involved Initiative’ and builds on the previous five and ten-year reviews, published in 2005 and 2009 respectively.
The Crown Estate owns most of the seabed around the UK out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit and has the rights to all non-energy minerals within the remainder of the UK continental shelf. It will licence marine aggregate extraction, if the Government has issued a favourable permission.
To obtain a licence, companies must go through the processes outlined by the MMO.
The Crown Estate's website gives details on the area of seabed licensed, dredged and surrendered each year.
The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) is the representative trade body for the British marine aggregate industry and a member of the Solent Forum.