Despite being the final resting place of many ships, the Goodwins create a natural anchorage called The Downs, which is still used to this day by ferries, tugs, cargo ships and even the Border Force as a safe haven in stormy weather.
Of equal importance, the Goodwins are a natural sea defence for the unstable East Kent coastline. They absorb the waves’ energy as they pound in from the north and south. Dredging these sandbanks will lower the level of the seabed and increase the risk of flooding, which has been a regular occurrence over many years.
£12M has been spent by the Environment Agency over the past three years on improving sea defences and beach recharging works. Groynes have been replaced at Kingsdown and in Deal a ‘wave’ wall has been built to protect the seafront and coastal properties. This has all come out of the taxpayers’ pocket.
Dover District Council have also this year announced a £1.5M budget to be allocated to beach recharging at Kingstown over the next five years, yet they refuse to consider that further dredging of the Goodwins may exacerbate the problem they are trying to address.
Dredging can change the wave height, period and direction of waves’ approach to the coastline, potentially altering the performance of such flood defences. All this recent work and expense could therefore be in vain.
We are not convinced that any amount of high-tech wave and tidal stream modelling can prove beyond reasonable doubt, that by changing the level and shape of the seabed on the Goodwins, dredging will not have some profound impact on our coastline.