The Goodwin Sands are one of the most important maritime archaeological areas in English waters. With their wealth of historic wrecks and the potential remains of crashed World War II aircraft it has been suggested that the Goodwins should be treated as a conservation area. Dover Harbour Board’s own Impact Report admits that there is a very high chance of finding nationally important historical and archaeological material in their proposed dredging area.
Dover Harbour Board recognises that damage to heritage assets is irreversible and a permanent loss to mankind. The first indication of discovering fragile archaeological material such as wooden shipwrecks, aircraft structures or prehistoric remains will be after they have been destroyed by the dredge head and appeared in broken pieces on board the dredge vessel. Then it is too late and these irreplaceable historic artefacts will have been destroyed for ever.
Dover Harbour Board has already decided to source the sand and aggregate for the start of their project from another dredge site in the Thames Estuary. Clearly this new source provides a suitable alternative to using the controversial Goodwin Sands and should be used for the whole project.
This marine licence application for dredging the Goodwin Sands should be refused.
Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee, August 2017.