News story

MMO grants marine licence for new underwater intake pipeline

The innovative underwater intake pipeline will support the flourishing marine life in Plymouth Sound and provide a vital channel for seawater to the Marine Biological Association (MBA).

The Marine Biological Association (MBA) applied to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for a marine licence to replace a seawater intake line on the seabed off the coast of Plymouth. The existing pipe transports raw seawater to the MBA facility in Plymouth but has come to the end of its life.

The project has an innovative focus on marine life with several local businesses working with MBA throughout the process.

ARC Marine worked with MBA on the design of the new pipe, to ensure it is sensitive to the marine environment and can survive stormy conditions. This involves the use of environmentally friendly materials, including Marine Matts, which are protective coverings made from marine crete, a carbon-neutral concrete alternative.

The Marine Matts are designed with a texture that supports and replenishes the biodiversity of local marine life. This not only protects the intake pipeline but actively benefits the ecosystem.

To eliminate the use of oversized vessels and equipment, ScaffFloat provided a floating barge to ensure the pipe is secured safely in place, with minimal impact on marine life. The ScaffFloat system uses reusable plastic floats made from recyclable plastic and, when they reach the end of their life, they are shredded and turned into new floats.

Following the installation, the University of Plymouth will re-instate an improved ‘Plymouth Underwater Teaching Observatory’ (PLUTO-2) camera and sensor system on the intake structure. This publicly available live streamed video footage will give scientists, students, and dedicated viewers the unique opportunity to observe marine life in the vicinity of the new intake.

The MMO Marine Licensing team supported MBA throughout the application process by providing clear guidance and regularly reviewing the application to ensure it and included all necessary documentation. The team made themselves available via various communications channels to answer queries and ensured a decision was made on the application well in advance of the proposed date for the works to start.

The underwater intake pipeline will not only support the flourishing marine life in Plymouth Sound, but also provide a vital channel for seawater to the MBA Research Aquarium.

Published 9 July 2024