THE MP for North Cornwall has hit back after criticism from the Liberal Democrats.

It comes amid an ongoing row over plans to create a giant ‘seaweed farm’ off the North Cornwall coast.

The Liberal Democrats accused Scott Mann of allowing the plans, subject to objections from locals in the Port Isaac area, to go ahead.

Ben Maguire, the Liberal Democrat PPC for North Cornwall, will face Mr Mann at the next general election.

He claimed that Mr Mann ‘initially backed the proposal by Penmayn Ltd without speaking to constituents’, a claim denied by the MP, who responded by stating that the issue should not be used for ‘political point scoring’.

Mr Maguire said: “I find it difficult to believe that our local MP went ahead and supported these proposals without even speaking to local people first. This is yet another example of how the Conservatives take us for granted in Cornwall. Consultation is a key part of the MMO’s application process, but most local residents knew nothing about the application. I would urge the MMO to use its powers to suspend this application immediately and allow our local communities to have a proper say on these proposals”.

In response, Mr Mann hit back, stating: “As part of the pre-engagement, I was contacted about plans to apply for a seaweed farm license. The government is backing measures to provide aquaculture to ascertain its economic and environmental impacts and how it might aid our transition to net-zero. On that basis, I was happy to support the initial concept. I was not consulted beyond the early scoping exercise or notified when a license application was submitted, and the consultation opened. I was informed that local stakeholders were being engaged with and no concerns were raised to me by those stakeholders or the community at the time.

“The events around the separate applications in Port Quin Bay have raised questions about the process that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) consults with local communities. I am pleased that after I contacted the MMO, the consultation process was reopened for Port Quin Bay, and I am currently having ongoing conversations with MMO regarding the approved licence in Port Isaac Bay. This includes concerns about pre-engagement, consultation, and MMO powers regarding section 72 of the MCAA Act 2009.

“I have taken this matter seriously and engaged from the outset. I have spoken personally with the Secretary and Minister of State in Defra, the MMO, campaigners, constituents, stakeholders, and other MPs. A representative from my office has attended meetings locally and I have forwarded large amounts of correspondence to the MMO and DEFRA.

“This is a serious concern for local people that should not be used for political point scoring."