Mussel farm plan; council’s ‘serious concerns’

A NEW shellfish farm in Lyme Bay could affect RNLI’s ability to rescue craft in Lyme Bay and ruin fishermen’s livelihoods.

The district council’s environment chief has backed lifeboat men, fishermen and other water users against a new mussel farm.

Councillor Graham Brown, EDDC’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for the environment has written to the Crown Estate’s chief executive, Roger Bright, expressing ‘serious’ concerns.

The Estate will decide whether to grant Offshore Shellfish Ltd a licence.

It follows a meeting with water users after concerns were raised by EDDC’s development management committee.

The district council were consulted and recommended the plans be refused and Cllr Brown said: “The RNLI has expressed …concerns about its own ability to …rescue leisure and other craft in storm conditions (so) close to proposed network of 20,000 kilometres of submerged rope (the infrastructure of the shellfish farm.)”

He said: “With shore-to-sea visibility of up to six miles, it is difficult to believe that positioning of some 2,500 black buoys, two metres high by half a metre wide, some of which would be permanently illuminated, can occur without impact on the visual amenity.”

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He said that Nick Prust, chairman of the South West Inshore Fishermen’s Association, and John Newton, chairman of the East Devon Fishermen’s Association, both considered the plans a ‘very serious’ threat to fishermen’s livelihoods.

Cllr Brown added that a chunk of East Devon’s economy was commercial and leisure boating and, with a large swathe of Lyme Bay earmarked as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), a shellfish farm would further curtail boating activity:

He urged Mr Bright to first to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and meet concerned groups before a decision was reached.