Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Harbour silt removal plan backed

Falmouth Docks
A public consultation on the project will be carried out in 2009

A plan to remove silt from a Cornish harbour to enable the town to cash in on visits from cruise ships has been declared "environmentally acceptable".

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) into the proposed Falmouth Cruise Project has approved the dredging of tonnes of silt from the seabed.

The silt removal would result in a deep channel into the docks, enabling large ships to berth in the harbour.

A public consultation exercise into the project will be carried out next year.

The environmental approval for the silt to be removed follows an investigation into possible problems caused by the dredging.

The 18-month-long study was conducted by environmental consultants Royal Haskoning with funding support from the South West Regional Development Agency and the Objective One Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Geophysical surveys

It involved analysing existing information and carrying out geophysical surveys by boat of the seabed.

If the multi-million pound project is eventually given the go-ahead, the silt would be used to either shore up coastal erosion or improve car park grounds.

If it is not needed it would have to be buried in landfill sites or dumped further out at sea.

Other aspects of the project include the construction of a longer quay as well as a new terminal building to allow passengers on larger cruise liners to disembark straight onto the quayside, rather than being ferried ashore by boat.

Environmental impact assessments will also have to be carried out on these aspects.

Falmouth Cruise Project is being led by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners and ship repair firm A&P Falmouth Limited.

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