Goodwin Sands campaign group secure right to a Judicial Review

Goodwin Sands SOS report, 9th March 2019: We won a significant battle at the High Court yesterday, when claimant Joanna Thomson was awarded a Judicial Review of the Marine Management Organisation’s decision to allow Dover Harbour Board to dredge 3 million tonnes of aggregate from the South Goodwins sandbank.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice – from L-R: Daniel Piccinin of Brick Court Chambers, Mrs Joanna Thomson, Paul Taylor of Richard Buxton Ltd (solicitors)

The Judge, The Honourable Mrs Justice Thornton granted Joanna’s solicitors leave to proceed to a Judicial Review on one of the two grounds presented to the court by Marie Demetriou QC of Brick Court Chambers, London.

Leave was granted on account of the fact that the MMO (H.M.G. Marine Management Organisation) had not considered the impact of the physical removal of the volume of 2 million m3 of sand from a designated Protected Feature within the Goodwin Sands proposed Marine Conservation Zone.  They had only considered the impact of removing the surface area of the subtidal sand, which is a designated Protected Feature within the proposed Marine Conservation Zone.

Leave was refused for the second ground that the MMO could not conclude that dredging would pose no risk to the underwater cultural heritage of the Goodwin Sands because the relevant document had not been agreed and finalised before making their decision.  Joanna’s solicitors, Richard Buxton Ltd, are considering appealing against this ruling.

Richard Kerr-Wilson, whose uncle Flying Officer Jack Kerr Wilson (no hyphen on purpose) was shot down over the Goodwins in May 1940, welcomed the decision, saying that ‘the Goodwins should be respected as a war grave for those who gave their lives for their country during WWII’.

After the hearing, Joanna stated ‘this is a major step forward for all of us who consider the Goodwin Sands should not be subject to rapacious mining by Dover Harbour Board, or anyone else.  They are, quite simply, not a quarry to be exploited by a budget driven developer trying to get away with applying 1980’s lack of regulations to the present day requirements of detailed Environmental Statements’. 

The Sands which are a proposed Marine Conservation Zone have been described by Wessex Archaeology, who reviewed data for Dover Harbour Board’s environmental consultants, as ‘archaeologically extraordinary’ on account of their holding the highest density of maritime assets in UK waters.

Judge Justine Thornton overturned a previous ruling by Judge David Holgate, who initially refused leave to proceed, in what could only be described as ‘a vitriolic rant from someone who had clearly not read the papers properly’.

It is anticipated that the Judicial Review will be held in June and will take place at the High Court.  Dover Harbour Board requested that the hearing took place before 21st June 2019 and this was accepted by both the Judge and Joanna’s Counsel.  The costs cap against Joanna in case she loses was capped at £10K but Richard Buxton wants to appeal this also as it is based entirely on the expectation of being able to raise more funds.

A transcript of Judge Thornton’s summing up will be made available in due course.

Goodwin Sands SOS, 9th March 2019. For further details, see

Goodwin Sands SOS also advise:

More Funds are now needed:
This is of course excellent news but we now need to raise at least another £30K for legal fees going forward.  We have already raised this amount so we know it can be done!  Donations can be made through our CrowdJustice link, or if you are a UK taxpayer, please contact us direct, again through the website, as we can claim gift aid, which would boost your donation by 20%.

Pledge to our CrowdJustice campaign


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