I agree that we should do all we can to protect the welfare of our marine life, and therefore I am pleased that ministers are working closely with the Marine Management Organisation, nature conservation bodies and marine industries to reduce underwater noise.
Underwater noise from ordnance clearance and other activities can have a significant impact on vulnerable marine species, but it is also important that any munitions clearance method used is both safe and effective.
I understand that the underwater noise impact of using low order deflagration techniques for unexploded ordnance detonations is currently being researched, and the Government is funding a project to compare the acoustic fields generated by unexploded ordnance clearance using high order detonation and using low-order deflagration. Two phases of this project have been completed, a third has been initiated, and a fourth is being actively explored.
The Government does not expect to issue formal guidance on the use of low-order deflagration techniques until this research has been completed; but I hope that, when it is completed, the project’s findings will help inform the regulatory authorities and the statutory nature conservation bodies about how best to clear unexploded munitions safely, effectively, and with minimal disruption to marine life.