§ 11. Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD)
If she will make a statement on the impact of dredging on the rate of coastal erosion. 
§ The Minister for the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley)
There is no evidence that licensed gravel extraction off the coast is having an effect on coastal erosion, but as a precaution each application must include a coastal impact assessment, which is carefully scrutinised.
§ Norman Lamb
Given that many experts—including the head of the erosion project—believe that dredging can have a significant effect on the rate of coastal erosion, given that the revenue from dredging off the Norfolk coast amounts to some 40 per cent. of national revenue from dredging in any one year, and given the extent of erosion off the Norfolk coast, is it not time for an urgent inquiry into the impact of dredging on the rate of coastal erosion?
§ Mr. Morley
Research has been and is being done on both the impact of dredging and the movement of 398 sediments in the southern North sea. In the 1990s Southampton university conducted studies on the impact of offshore dredging and concluded that it had no real impact on sea bed patterns or erosion. More recently, in 2002, a study was undertaken of the movements of sea bed sediments in the southern North sea. Although it did not specifically examine the dredging itself, it too concluded that dredging was having no direct impact on coastal erosion.As far as I am aware, there is only one example of a proven impact on coastal erosion, and that dredging was immediately inshore.
We take these matters seriously; we do not dismiss them. We take them into account in our overall evaluation of licence applications. At present, however, there is no evidence that dredging is having an effect on coastal erosion.