SAV Comment – Kent is our home county – the air battles took place above Kent and in the English Channel. British and German air pilots were shot down over the Goodwin Sands which lies off the Kent coast. The sands are a massive maritime burial ground, with thousands of ships and their crews buried under the sands there. We must NOT allow the sands to be dredged for profit – this area is a war grave – keep it like that ! (SAV).
To reject the licence application by Dover Harbour Board to dredge marine aggregate (sand and gravel) from the Goodwin Sands for their Dover Western Docks Regeneration project
Why is this important?
The Goodwin Sands are a string of sandbanks some 25 square nautical miles in size lying 5 miles off the Kent coast in the English Channel. They are a unique marine environment with a heritage to match.
But this precious habitat is under threat and time is not on our side!
Dover Harbour Board want to extract the marine aggregate from the Goodwins (as they are known locally) because it is cheaper. The purchase price from the Crown Estate who own the seabed is less than from commercial sites, but they are further away. DHB cite the carbon footprint as a reason to take the aggregate from the Goodwins but in reality this is a smoke screen which can be mitigated in other ways.
DHB have now applied for their licence from the Marine Management Organisation. The first public consultation period ended in July but the Environmental Impact Assessment raised so many questions that a second one is now in place. This will run until 16th November 2016. A decision whether or not to grant the licence will be made any time after this, depending on the reactions received.
Save our Sealife.
The Goodwins are home to a colony of 350 grey seals and the resting place of some 2,000 shipwrecks. Many of the ships were lost with all hands. They are also the spawning and nursery grounds of a variety of local fish and shellfish. The Thornback Ray which is listed as ‘near threatened’ under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 has frequently been sighted there.
The colony of grey seals use areas adjacent to the proposed dredging zone as their ‘haul out’ sites i.e. where they rest on land at low tide. The noise and vibration from the huge dredgers will disturb them in their natural habitat; there is also the possibility of them being injured by collision with the dredgers and propellors as they are naturally inquisitive creatures.
The sands provide shelter to ships in bad weather (in an anchorage known as The Downs) and to the Kent coastline by absorbing the waves’ energy as they pound in from the North Sea. At low tide a large proportion of the sands are exposed and waves can be seen crashing onto them from the shore.