A year ago, in November 2021 we resumed our talks programme after the Covid restrictions with a presentation led by Joanna Thomson of the Goodwin Sands Preservation Trust. This talk included the threat from marine aggregate extraction and we are sure those of you who attended this event will be particularly pleased that on 14th October 2022 the Port of Dover announced that it had abandoned its plans to dredge the Goodwin Sands for landfill for their Dover Western Docks development.
The campaign against proposed sand mining on the Goodwins began in 2016 by the Deal based group Goodwin Sands SOS. A petition delivered to No.10 Downing Street in October 2016 attracted over 12,000 signatures. Following three public consultations, the Marine Management Organisation granted Dover Harbour Board (DHB) their marine aggregate extraction licence in 2018, just one week after the Goodwin Sands were designated a Marine Conservation Zone.
In 2019 Goodwin Sands SOS brought a Judicial Review, held at the High Court in London, which it lost. Undaunted, the grass-roots community group continued campaigning and carrying out important research. This research identified several flaws in the data used, leading to an ‘unreliable’ conclusion that previous dredging had not lowered bank levels, thereby reducing the protection the Goodwins give to the vulnerable East Kent foreshore.
The aggregate extraction licence is due to expire on 31st December 2022. Since dredging has not yet started it would have been necessary for Dover Harbour Board to apply for an extension if it still wanted to take sand from the Goodwins. However, they have announced that they will not be applying for a licence extension and will be sourcing the required aggregate from elsewhere.
SOS campaign co-ordinator Joanna Thomson (yes, the same person who gave our talk) explained ‘We are obviously delighted that the Port of Dover has decided not to extract sand from the Goodwins. This is the right decision for them, the local community and the Goodwin Sands, sending a strong message that cost neutral alternatives can be found and that development does not always have to be at the expense of our environment. We would like to thank the hundreds of people who have supported us and encouraged us to keep going over the past six and half years – this has been a huge joint effort and everyone involved should feel very proud of what has been achieved. We would like to wish the Port of Dover every success in the next stage of their redevelopment and hope that we can work with them in the future to promote the environmental and historical importance of this unique maritime area’.
The Goodwin Sands Conservation Trust will continue to promote the environmental and historical importance of the Sands through talks, pop up displays and creating learning materials for Kent primary schools. It is also working with local authorities to ensure proper legislation is put in place to prevent the Goodwins from being the target of further development plans.