Marinet asks MMO to examine the validity of E. Anglian “wave model” for offshore aggregate dredging licences

In correspondence with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), commencing in June 2013 and still current, Marinet has asked the MMO to examine with care the validity of the wave model being employed by the aggregate companies in order to justify new and existing offshore dredging licences in the Great Yarmouth area.

The wave model is particularly important because it models and predicts the wave regime in the area, and thus the character of the waves arriving on the beaches along the adjacent coastline. Coastal erosion along this coastline has been severe, and the aggregate companies are arguing that their wave model demonstrates that aggregate dredging is not implicated in this erosion.

However Marinet has pointed out to the MMO that a wave model must be based on precise meteorological data, particularly wind speeds which are drawn from the exact area of study otherwise the wave model will be flawed. For example, wind speeds at sea are significantly greater than those on land, therefore offshore wind speeds must be used to calibrate the model and not terrestrial wind speeds. Wind speeds determine the height of the waves, as does the depth of the sea where the waves are formed, and aggregate dredging can significantly deepen the depth of the sea due to excavation of sand and gravel from the seabed.

Marinet has asked the MMO to determine how the wave model has sourced its meteorological data — is the data based on actual offshore wind speeds, and who has supplied the data? And, over what period of time has this data been collected?

So far, it appears that only “modelled wind data” has been used to inform the wave model, instead of actual data. And, the meteorological data that validates the model (i.e. data which tests the predictions of the wave model regarding wave heights) appears to have been drawn from locations that are either outside or only peripheral to the actual offshore licensing area.

Marinet has raised these concerns with the MMO in its capacity as the official regulator of aggregate dredging licences, and Marinet has informed the regulator that it remains concerned about the validity of the wave model. It has asked the MMO to appoint an independent expert to examine whether the wave model can genuinely be relied upon to make accurate predictions.

If it cannot be relied upon, then the new licences currently being sought by the aggregate companies in the Great Yarmouth offshore area are inevitably brought into question.

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