Quarry expansion plans could threaten Cornish Seaweed Company business

[UK] One of Cornwall’s fastest growing super food start-ups fears it could be under threat from a quarry expansion plan.

The Cornish Seaweed Company, which was praised by celebrity chefs such as Cornwall-based Nathan Outlaw or Raymond Blanc, is the first company in the South West to harvest seaweed.

The firm has been so successful it has initiated a growing industry. However such growth could be under threat because of plans to extend Dean Quarry.

The quarry lies within the Coverack to Porthoustock Site of Special Scientific Interest, within an Area of Natural Beauty, is adjacent to National Trust land at Lowland Point, on the South West Coast Path, surrounded by the Lizard Special Area of Conservation and extends seaward into the Manacles Marine Conservation Zone, where Tim and Caro’s sustainable business was granted a license by The Crown Estate to harvest seaweed in 2012.

The Cornish Seaweed Company fears that the proposed impact of the quarry threatens its staff, and the staff of many other local companies, such as The Cornish Sea Salt Company, and Roskilly’s farm.

However, it’s not just the threat to their business that worries company’s co-founders Tim van Berkel and Caro Warwick-Evans.

Both founders previously worked in conservation and environmental engineering jobs, and are committed to ensuring their business remains sustainable.

Tim said: “There are only 27 MCZs in the UK, and these were hard to come by. They are vital to protect and restore the marine environment. If a 500m jetty is allowed in the MCZ, this would be a precursor for anyone else to operate in them. Then what’s the whole point of an MCZ?”

Seaweed has become a superfood trend for 2015, being included in menus across Cornwall.

It is harvested sustainably by the company which allows the seaweeds to regenerate; a process which Caro Warwick-Evans, co-founder, said is essential for the seaweed to be classified as organic.

Michelin star chef Nathan Outlaw said: “The work that the people at The Cornish Seaweed Company are doing has challenged the way I cook.

“Their produce has become an integral part of Cornish cuisine and I would hope that in the future, their seaweeds become a product used regularly in every household.

“They have taken a completely natural resource and, using sustainable harvesting methods, made it accessible for the catering industry and home cooks alike.

“I feel that their efforts to harness this nutritious product and educate people about the benefits of using locally sourced seaweed in their cooking are to be commended.”

The extent of the quarrying was cited as being at least 500% more rock extracted than when Dean Quarry was in its previous operation.

Local action group Cornwall Against Dean Superquarry has now taken the decision to proceed with a judicial review to investigate why Cornwall Council have refused to accept Greg Clarke, Secretary of the State for Communities’, decision that there is a risk of significant harm.

In order to cover the associated legal costs, CADS seek fundraising of £20,000, and have set up a donations section on their website at www.cads2015.com.

The Cornish Seaweed Company has now appealed to those interested in protecting the marine environment to support the cause.

A spokesman for Shire Oak Quarries said: “We are continuing to examine the options for any necessary marine infrastructure at Dean Quarry and we will keep the community informed as our plans evolve.

“It is important to stress that a full Environmental Impact Assessment would be submitted with any application for marine infrastructure works and this would be rigorously assessed by the relevant expert authorities as part of the decision-making process.”


Photo: The Cornish Seaweed Company

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