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Go-ahead for Lyme Bay Mussel Farms

Sustainability Politics +2 more

UK - An application by Offshore Shellfish Limited for a pilot lease for three mussel farms off Lyme Bay in Devon have been given the go ahead by the Crown Estates.

The application by the Scottish company for the three farms, which are believed to be creating the largest in Europe, was met with opposition from local authorities.

In its official finding, the Crown Estate have decided that: "A lease should be granted for pilot scale development within the areas as shown on the attached plan, and as set out in the consent no 34324/10/0/CON granted under Section 34 of Coast Protection Act 1949, subject to conditions.

"An Option Agreement for lease for commercial scale development of the areas, and as set out in the consent no 34324/10/0/CON granted under Section 34 of Coast Protection Act 1949, should be granted, exercisable upon fulfilment of the conditions.

"The lease will be subject to the special conditions."

The Crown estates said that the statutory authorities and organisations with direct responsibility for environmental protection raised no objections, subject to conditions and those set out in the consent issued for the construction of the development under Section 34 of the Coast Protection Act.

Despite concerns expressed by some in the fishing industry The Crown Estate considered that this development has the ability to co-exist with local fishing, and marine recreation interests, and should be given the opportunity to do so in light of the area occupied in proportion to the extent of Lyme Bay, and the socio-economic benefits it offers, both in its own right and in helping to create a diverse local marine economy.

The Crown Estate considered that the views of authorities with a direct remit on environmental, navigation and fishery matters as well as the conditions incorporated into the agreement for lease, will address the issues identified by civil authorities.

With regard to The Crown Estate’s statutory obligations under the Crown Estate Act 1961, and consideration of the potential benefits accruing to the local economy, the Crown estates said that this proposal offers the greatest potential for sustainable use of the area of seabed in question.

However in anofficial report in June, Exmouth Town Council said it was concerned and "will need some convincing to feel relaxed about this operation in Lyme Bay".

The report added: "Local people are proud of living along the coast of Lyme Bay and feel a great responsibility to protect it, to protect the living it provides to local people and to ensure its life and vitality for the future. They do not wish to see large companies taking over and despoiling our locality and disempowering local communities when all politicians are preaching the mantra of local empowerment."