Campaign group “Goodwin Sands SOS” launches petition to stop its dredging by Port of Dover

The Port of Dover is expected to lodge an application imminently with the Marine Management Organisation in order to seek permission to dredge the Goodwin Sands, scheduled for future designation as a Marine Conservation Zone, in order to obtain sand for the Port’s development.

The campaign group Goodwin Sands SOS is challenging the Port’s right to despoil the Goodwins, and is organising both the arguments and the public opposition to this proposal.  A Petition has been launched, click here.  For those unfamiliar with the Goodwin Sands, a video* of the Sands may be seen here.

A short Statement by the Group is provided below.

* Note: The video contains a short clip involving nudity.

SOS – Stop the Dredge!

To: John Tuckett, CEO Marine Management Organisation

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 5km 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 plan to apply for their licence from the Marine Management Organisation at the beginning of June 2016, after which there is a consultation period of 28 days during which objections can be made. We therefore effectively have two months to save this centuries old unique environment from destruction.

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 propellers 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.

Save our Shore

The coastline between Dover and Deal is susceptible to erosion and beach recharging works are a semi permanent feature of life there. Coastal flooding along the East Kent coast is a continual problem and one which would be exacerbated by dredging the Goodwin Sands due to lowering the level and changing the topography (shape) of the sea bed. The sandbanks absorb the energy from the huge rolling waves coming in from the North Sea which would otherwise be crashing straight onto the Kent coast with destructive results.

Save our Shipwrecks

The wreck of the Admiral Gardner lies within the proposed dredging zone. She was an East Indiaman, built in 1797, which was stranded on the sands during a gale in 1809. Although there is a 300m exclusion zone around her, the impact and vibration caused by nearby dredging could still disturb or damage her.

Four other ships, Northumberland, Restoration, Mary and Stirling Castle which were all wrecked on the night of the Great Storm, 19th November 1703, with the loss of 1201 lives, lie on the seabed adjacent to the proposed dredging zone.

The history of Deal boatmen and the Sands are inexorably linked, giving rise to multiple tales of tragedy, lost lives and heroism. These stories of bravery are reflected in legendary characters such as Will Adams of the North Deal lifeboat, the sea going Chaplain Reverend Stanley Treanor and the sea surgeon James Hall.

A German submarine which sank off Dover after being mined in 1939 has still not been discovered. It is protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 and may well lie in or near the proposed dredging zone.

There is also the possibility of wartime aircraft lying undiscovered in the area, such as the Dornier 17 German bomber which was found by a local diver in 2008 and recovered with international press coverage a couple of years ago.

Please help save the Goodwin Sands and their neighbouring environment from the destruction of dredging by signing this petition today!

How it will be delivered

We will either email the signatures or deliver them in person.


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