As the nation prepares to virtually commemorate 75 years since VE Day, we will be launching a social media broadcast to raise awareness of the threat to WWII war graves in the Goodwin Sands.
Over 100 airmen from Britain, Poland, America and Germany perished in the area around the Goodwins, with less than a handful being recovered and given a proper burial.
Goodwin Sands are a collective war grave; not a source of landfill.
We will continue our fight to get this sensitive area officially acknowledged and property protected.
Report from ITV Meridian on 21st January 2020 (https://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2020-01-21/east-kent-seafront-residents-concerns-for-coastal-erosion-and-future-dredging-plans/)
Dozens of people in beachfront homes in east Kent say coastal erosion has undermined vital flood defences.
Video report by ITV Meridian’s Tony Green
They say they also fear plans for large-scale dredging of the Goodwin Sands could now cause disastrous flooding of Kingsdown near Deal.
Coastal defences try to keep the sea back, but storms can sweep away shingle overnight, leaving homes vulnerable.
The Goodwin Sands serve as a natural sea defence. But Campaigners trying to protect them are concerned no one really knows what will happen once the port of Dover starts dredging there.
Joanna Thomson from the group Goodwin Sands SOS says: “They [the council] are making efforts and the residents are really appreciative of what they’re doing. But what they’re not doing is working out what might happen if there is dredging out on the Goodwin Sands. What the real problem is they’re wave modelling and we have no faith in it. They took data from Deal Pier in 2006. So it’s insufficient and it doesn’t give you the whole picture of what’s going on out on the Goodwin Sands and it’s now 14 years out of date.”
Resident Hugh Mitchell has been living in the area for 23 years and has seen changes. He says: “We used to have a large collection of shingle outside our house and since the groins came in we’ve lost about 30m of it. With the sea levels rising and these unpredictable tides, I think we could well see the loss of these houses.”
A spokesman for the Port of Dover said that the licence to dredge the Goodwin Sands came with a number of conditions, all designed to protect the environment. They say when dredging begins they will work with experts and stakeholders to make sure all of those conditions are fully met.
In the meantime, Dover Council says it will continue with a beach management plan, with more beach replenishment in the next few months.
Last month we asked the prospective MPs for Dover & Deal for their views on the adequacy of the process that led to Dover Harbour Board being granted their dredging licence.
We highlighted our main concerns which include the Marine Management Organisation making their decision to grant the licence before either the Environmental Management Plan or the Archaeological Management Plan were agreed.
Published below are the responses we have received from Charlotte Cornell and Natalie Elphicke. Simon Dodd, Beccy Sawbridge and Nathan Sutton have also sent messages of support.
The Honourable Sir Duncan Ouseley has dismissed Goodwin Sands SOS claim for the marine aggregate dredging licence granted to Dover Harbour Board for the Goodwin Sands to be quashed. SOS’s legal advisors have advised against appealing the decision.
Spokesman for the SOS group Joanna Thomson said “we are naturally very disappointed at this decision. It was a tough legal challenge but we had to pursue every avenue to save this precious and unique environment. However, the campaign is far from over. This Judicial Review related only to a specific environmental matter. The dredging’s impact upon war graves and the internationally important underwater cultural heritage (UCH) remains to be resolved by the MMO and Historic England“.
Mrs Thomson continued “the Archaeological Written Scheme of Investigation (AWSI), yet to be formulated, should provide protection for our heritage and we shall fight to ensure that it does, if necessary by further legal action. Furthermore, the issue of allowing dredging of a protected habitat in a Marine Conservation Zone also needs addressing at the highest level without delay, as it makes a complete mockery of the whole MCZ programme. Protection must mean protection”.
Despite losing this round of the Judicial Review, the community group can be proud of its many achievements:
- it has prevented the destruction by dredging of at least two military aircraft crash sites and two potentially valuable shipwrecks. These lie in the original dredge zone and had not been detected by Dover Harbour Board’s consultants. Damaging military aircraft crash sites is unlawful under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
- it has forced the Marine Management Organisation to allow the public to comment on the revised draft AWSI before the pre-dredge surveys can start.
- it has highlighted the considerable failings in the marine licensing process which must be addressed.
- it has created the Goodwin Sands Conservation Trust which will educate the public and raise awareness of the cultural, environmental and historical significance of the Sands. The Trust’s main goal is to inscribe the Goodwins as the first UNESCO marine cultural World Heritage Site.
Dredging the Goodwins will have three important impacts:
- it completely undermines the protection supposedly provided by Marine Conservation Zones. The subtidal sand targeted for extraction was designated a Protected Habitat on 31stMay 2019. The Marine Management Organisation concluded that removing 3 million tonnes of this sand would not hinder the conservation objectives as Natural England had advised them the habitat would recover in 5 years.
- it poses a serious risk to our underwater cultural heritage. Dover Harbour Board’s contractors have not positively identified any of the targets lying in the dredge zone and have dismissed all of them as being of no human interest ie part of a shipwreck or aircraft crash site. DHB has no idea what they are because they will not ground truth these targets by diver and / or ROV inspection.
- it jeopardises the inscription of a potential World Heritage Site
Dover Harbour Board’s marine licence allows them to dredge up to 3 million tonnes of dry aggregate until 31stDecember 2022. It will be used as landfill for their Dover Western Docks Revival project. No official use of the reclaimed land has been given but many consider it will be used as a lorry park.
The SOS group would like to thank all the many advisors who have so willingly and generously given their professional advice over the past three years. In particular, Paul Taylor and Richard Buxton of Richard Buxton solicitors and Marie Demetriou QC and Daniel Piccinin of Brick Court Chambers, who submitted a compelling legal argument on what was essentially a very narrow point.
They would also like to thank the fantastic supporters who so far have raised almost £50K for the legal fees and whose words of encouragement have helped to keep them persevering for the duration of this lengthy and challenging campaign..
Your continued support is vital to our eventual success.
You can read a copy of the official judgement here: https://goodwinsandssos.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Thomson-v-MMO-Approved-Judgement.pdf
This recording tells the story of the Goodwin Sands SOS campaign to prevent the rapacious mining of the Goodwin Sands and identifies what we consider to be the failings in the marine licensing process. It is taken from our presentation to the International Maritime & Shipwreck Society conference in Plymouth in February 2019.
This video of a possible WWII bomber found on the Goodwin Sands in 2018 highlights how geophysical surveys cannot reliably detect crashed military aircraft. This plane was described as a ‘seafloor disturbance’. There are 29 similar targets in the dredge zone and no one knows what they are.
GOODWIN SAND SOS PRESS RELEASE SATURDAY MARCH 9TH 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.
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 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, 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.
BBC Radio 4 News – 8th March 2019
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%.
Sir Tim Smit, KBE, Chairman of Eden Project International and owner of the Charlestown Shipwreck Museum, urges DEFRA, the MMO and Dover Harbour Board to each take a step back and reconsider the impact of the rapacious mining of the Goodwin Sands, which he describes as ‘probably the most important site of underwater cultural heritage in the UK’.
Today, Friday 12th October 2018 at 11 am we are launching a fundraising appeal to help us prepare our case for a Judicial Review of the Marine Management Organisation’s decision to grant Dover Harbour Board a dredging licence. The link to our CrowdJustice page is here:
Personal appeals to the Government from endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, for the licence decision to be reviewed have not, as yet, borne fruit. The discovery of an apparent WWII bomber near the dredging area has also been met with a wall of total silence. We have therefore decided we must take the small window of opportunity available to us to lodge a claim for a Judicial Review.
We need to be clear: if this licence is allowed to stand, it will not be the last. The long-term impacts dredging will have on both our marine environment and our underwater cultural heritage are profound and mustn’t be underestimated.
So, please pledge what you can today and share this link with anyone you think will support us.
Thank you very much.
Fantastic words of support for Goodwin Sands from Lewis Pugh today at the Conservative Party conference.
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