However, the limited ‘beneficial use’ of dredged sediment for habitat restoration is not just a Solent issue - it is a broader national and international concern. The problem is that using sediment in this manner is accompanied by major technical and financial challenges that organisations across the world struggle to overcome.
For several years, ABPmer has been seeking ways to address these challenges and we used our experience to assist the Solent Forum on this project.
To pursue this work, we recognised the need to change established thinking and practices with respect to the use of dredge sediment. To change this ‘business as usual’ approach we pursued an innovative strategic review process which emphasised the benefits that could be achieved.
This process involved clarifying, quantifying and communicating the full range of real-world benefits that arise from restoration projects. This greater emphasis on all benefits (and hence all the beneficiaries) is essential if we are to fund and implement more sustainable coastal management projects, protect more coastal wetlands and address declines in marine biodiversity.
To deliver this benefits-focused approach, Phase 1 involved a strategic review of the Solent to identify locations where the largest gains could be achieved and to start building a partnership to deliver them.
Phase 2 then examined the methods for restoring marshes in a prime candidate area in the west Solent. This options review was informed by an evidence-based cost: benefit analysis. It concluded that most proposed approaches achieved a net societal benefit compared with doing nothing. The Solent Forum are therefore pursuing an active intervention as Phase 3 of BUDS.