EU Law on dredging

Nov 2014

An extract from an article by Christopher Booker of The Telegraph of 14 Nov 2014

The EA’s strategy has been driven at every point by its wish to conform with the laws and ideology of the EU – right down to the thickets of bureaucracy that make it
virtually impossible, under EU waste rules, to dispose sensibly of the silt dug by locally managed drainage boards from the 1,000 miles of ditches designed to keep the Levels dry


The conclusion of this assessment by the
EuDA Environment Committee is that the
impact of
EU environmental legislation on
the dredging sector
is fundamental with
respect to the question of dredged material
management and priorities, but is restricted
when it comes to detailed implementation
rules. The main impact results from the
Landfill Directive, but even here much
depends on the way the member state
concerned has transposed this piece of
legislation into national law. Especially for
marine waters, where the bulk of dredging
takes place anyway, the framework
established under the umbrella of the
London Convention has priority over EU
law and is also more helpful for the sector.

The Marine Strategy may in the future
undermine the exclusive competence of the
international conventions.
The impact of the Water Framework cannot
yet be established in full, but it is likely
to have mainly indirect effects as a result
complicating project development.
Direct effects may result from additional
monitoring requirements during projects and
after completion as imposed by the respective
permitting authorities in member states.

The conclusion with respect to dredging
operations in relation to the Habitats and
Birds Directives is: their effects will be
mainly indirect but not insignificant.
The effects of this legislation can lead to
significant delays in project approval and

also to important increases in costs caused by extended needs for impact assessment.
Of particular concern to the industry is the
fact that
impact assessment for ecological effects in marine waters may be very difficult, since the environment is so dynamic, and thus lead to further delays
in the approval process.

This is the final page of an article in a dredging magazine -


In other words it is not worth the trouble of the EA to conform with the legalities for “small” dredging works and if they and/or the dredging company get it wrong they are in European Court.
This was explained to me by an EA official in Ripon years ago.
And we have not mentioned water voles, bats, newts, fish, water quality, English Nature, EU protected species, etc - all to be studied and reports written (2-300 pages) before any dredging starts. Somerset Levels broke the mould - politics helps.