New archaeological surveys being conducted on Goodwin Sands, Kent

A south-western strip of the southern half of the Goodwin Sands, offshore from Dover and Deal, is the subject of an application to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) by the Dover Harbour Board to dredge 3.75 million tonnes of sand to use as infill material in a reconstruction project for the Port of Dover.

The Goodwin Sands is a candidate Marine Conservation Zone under UK law, is the site of over 1000 shipwrecks from over the centuries, and during the Battle of Britain in WWII over 60 British, Polish and German aircraft crashed there, with their crew, thus making the Goodwins their final resting and “war grave”.

A campaign has developed, led by Goodwin Sands SOS, to protect the conservation and archaeological heritage of the Goodwins and to secure a ruling by the MMO and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) that the sand which the Harbour Board needs should be sourced from elsewhere.

The MOD is a party to this decision because an Act of Parliament (The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986) requires that crashed military aircraft (whatever their origin) from WWII and subsequently and sunken military vessels from WWI and since should be sites protected from disturbance without prior permission from the Secretary of State MOD. To date, the MOD has refused to designate the aircraft crash sites, whose precise location is unknown, as requiring protection under the 1986 Act.

Following two public consultations on the conservation and archaeology in the connection with the Harbour Board’s dredging application to the MMO, Historic England has now intervened to require a magnetometer survey (detection of ferrous material) of the proposed dredge site. This new survey has just been completed and its finding will be reported upon later this summer with a third publication consultation in August.

Those seeking protection of the Goodwins Sands, which includes Marinet, have argued that this application should have been dismissed by the MMO and MOD long ago. They also have profound reservations about the actual usefulness of the magnetometer survey because WWII aircraft were built of aluminium, wood and canvas (thus undetectable largely to a magnetometer survey) and ships prior to WWI were nearly all built of wood (equally largely undetectable to a magnetometer survey). Marinet has recorded these reservations with Historic England.

Goodwin Sands SOS has just conducted an interview with the online archaeological site , and this interview maybe seen here . Goodwin Sands SOS is also running a Petition in opposition to the dredging application, and to support this statement of view click here .


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