The investigative digital news magazine, ThePipeline has looked into the visit by Trudi Wakelin, Head of Marine Licensing at the Marine Management Organisation (the organisation responsible for the decision whether to grant Port of Dover permission to dredge the Goodwin Sands) to the Port of Dover in July 2017.
It has been suggested that Ms Wakelin’s visit was ‘professionally inappropriate’ and ‘…could potentially form a ground for a Judicial Review of any decision by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to grant Port of Dover a licence to dredge the Goodwin Sands’. It is reported that the visit took place at the invitation by the Port of Dover.
Trudi Wakelin wrote in her blog (https://marinedevelopments.blog.gov.uk/2017/10/16/trudi-wakelin-my-first-6-months/):
‘So far, I have visited many coastal regions. It has been great to meet major stakeholders to help them understand more about our marine management activities and get a deeper understanding of how we can best work with them.
A good example of this was my very constructive meeting with the CEO of Dover Harbour Board (DHB). He wanted to make sure the MMO has a good understanding of his business and how important it is to the local community. I went to see his operations and it was fascinating to see the piling rigs at work and the wider context of how he manages his ferry and port operations.
As an engineer by trade, it’s always of interest to me to understand how things work but it was even more fascinating to see the all of the logistical elements that go into the successful running of a port. It also gave the CEO comfort and reassurance that we were ready and willing to listen and understand him.’
ThePipeline investigated Trudi Wakelin’s visit in the Summer of 2017, where it is claimed she did not visit the DWDR (Dover Western Docks Revival) and the photos she took were ‘…during her travelling time.’ During their questioning, an MMO spokesperson replied:
‘Trudi visited Dover Harbour Board and as part of her visit saw piling rigs in action.’
‘She did not visit the DWDR project. The photos she took were actually not part of any visit or meeting but during her travelling time.’
ThePipeline voices the obvious concerns by campaigners that such a visit could be considered an exercise in partiality given the sensitive nature of the campaign, especially when she has offered ‘…comfort and reassurance…’ to DHB.
Although a meeting with Trudi Wakelin has been offered to the Goodwin Sands SOS campaign group and other interested parties, the MMO have proposed that the meeting should take place in London instead of locally as it was for DHB. Obviously this would cause difficulties for parties that have full time jobs and are members of a voluntary campaign but the MMO remains unmoved. As yet, no date for this meeting has been set despite repeated requests by Goodwin Sands SOS.
You can read the full post at ThePipeline here: http://thepipeline.info/blog/2018/01/30/goodwin-sands-row-mmo-director-of-licensing-held-unminuted-meeting-with-port-of-dover-ceo/