• April 21, 2015


The Isle of Man Chief Minister has responded in some detail to queries from the Celtic League about the harbour silt dumping issue.

In the letter which was accompanied by supporting documentation he sets out his support for his colleague Ministers at DEFA and DOI and disputes the silt is toxic.

He also says he believes the issue could have been avoided by earlier action.

The full text of his letter is set out below and a link to a report on our queries to him can be found at the foot of this article:

“Dear Bernard,

Peel Harbour Dredging & Onshore Strorage of Harbour Silt

Thank you for your letter dated 5 April 2015 regarding the dredging works at Peel and the onshore storage of harbour silt.

From the information I have been given, there has been a lot of work undertaken regarding the dredging of Peel Marina, although the initial intention was to dispose of the dredgings out to sea, following discussions between the Departments of Infrastructure (DOT) and the Environment, Fisheries and Agriculture (DEFA), the decision was taken at the end of February to dispose of the dredged material onshore.

I understand various landfill options were considered, both private sector and Government, but as there is no licensed landfill site here with the relevant planning permission for the permanent disposal of this type of waste, the decision was made to create a temporary site on DoI land by Poortown Quarry. Given that the period for dredging is from January to May, time was very limited, with a target date of 30 March to start the works.

I regret that there was not adequate communication between Government and interested parties although I do understand the reason for the speed of works at Poortown.

Peel Marina is very important to the economy of the Island , which I am sure you recognize. I have remonstrated with the Minister of Infrastructure over the fact that, other than in 2014, no significant maintenance dredging has been done since the marina was formed, leading to a large amount of build-up of silt to be dredged and he has given me his assurances that this will not happen again.

The site for the temporary disposal at Poortown has been engineered in design to accept the dredged material, and the area for the dredged silt will be lined with a membrane to hold the material. The start of the dredging was delayed in order to ensure the engineering work at Poortown was completed and that the site was ready for operations to begin. In respect of the vehicles being used, the Department did not wish to place contracts off island or specialist tanker vehicles, so asked the local haulier contracted to move the dredged material to modify existing bulk tippers to make them suitable. There will also be a limit on the amount each truck will carry to reduce the risk of spillage. There will also be at least one sweeper on the route to clean up any small leakages.

Your assumption regarding the route is correct; the haulage route will go past a primary school. This route was chosen as this road is less busy than the alternative route which passes Queen Elizabeth II School . The Department has asked its contractors to take account of the peak time of arrivals and departures at the school.

I have been informed that there will be, as with all landfills, various monitoring and reporting regimes for the site and Minister Gawne has assured me that this site is only temporary, and it will not become a “super dump” at Poortown. Indeed, he tells me that he has given the Commissioners of German an absolute assurance on this matter.

I do believe that this could have been avoided had regular maintenance dredging been in place. Regular dredging would mean that the marina would not have silted up and that the dredged materials could be disposed of out to sea. Ten years of dredged material building up from coming down the Neb is too great a quantity to dispose of out to sea in one go.

In closing, I go back to your words regarding the “leagacy of the Island ’s mining past” and this material is a build-up of many years of silt coming down from the old mines. It has been allowed to become concentrated river dredgings. It is not “toxic waste” which one or two members of the public are calling it, and no worse than any of the mining areas all over the Island . I hope that you have seen the Questions and Answers document about this topic but I am attaching a copy for your assistance – this covers the issues you raise in detail.

I hope I have answered your points. I know that you recognize that this work is a challenge and I know it is difficult to please everyone involved, but I do believe the two Departments involved have acted in the best interests of the people of the Island by protecting our economy, our international reputation and our marine environment using the best environmental solution to a pressing problem.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Allan Bell MHK
Chief Minister”

Related link:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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