According to the Draft Protocol, baseline documents are to be based on existing and readily available information (for example, from previous applications and/or EIAs, dredge disposal returns and condition monitoring). Where possible, they are intended to identify:
- the existing need for maintenance dredging in individual areas;
- the existing volumes, frequencies and duration of dredging operations - where this should be based on actual dredge returns rather than volumes applied for in consents;
- the precise locations of dredging and disposal;
- the methods of dredging, transport and disposal, including any restrictions imposed as licence conditions or by physical constraints (e.g. depth, tidal flow, wave or weather conditions);
- material type and chemical status (existing and historical);
- the history of dredging and disposal at particular locations, as well as the variability in material type and volumes due to natural changes;
- any monitoring requirements previously imposed through licences, and the outcomes of such monitoring;
- any beneficial use and sediment cell maintenance schemes, or mitigation and compensation schemes entered into; and
- any other relevant information from past studies or previous applications that have possible direct or indirect links to the maintenance dredging.
They should also include information supplied by Natural England and others (e.g. Defra, Cefas, Environment Agency) on the condition and characteristics of the Natura 2000 site, in particular:
- the interest features of the site and their conservation objectives, which could be affected by maintenance dredging; and
- the extent to which the ecological requirements of the site have been achieved, maintained or restored since the requirements of the Birds or Habitats Directive were applied to the site.