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Goodwin Sands SOS launches crowdfunding appeal for judicial review over Marine Management Organisation dredging decision

By Sam Lennon

A pressure group has today launched a crowdfunding appeal for its judicial review over the Goodwin Sands being dredged.

Goodwin Sands SOS (Save Our Sands) has instructed environmental and public lawyers, Richard Buxton Ltd, to represent it.

The claim for a review must be submitted by October 25.

The Goodwin Sands. Picture by Ian Goodban
The Goodwin Sands. Picture by Ian Goodban

The crowdfunding platform CrowdJustice is being used for this part of the fundraising.

Donors’ pledges are only payable once the initial crowd-funding target is reached, which must be within 30 days.

The fight is against the decision by the governments' Marine Management Organisation to grant the Port of Dover a licence to dredge up to three million tonnes of aggregate from the sands off Deal.

This is for its Dover Western Docks Revival development.

Opponents like GSSOS fought against the application for two years but the MMO made its final decision on July 25.

It also came a week after the end of the public consultation for the Goodwin Sands Marine Conservation Zone designation.

Initial grounds for the review include the process by which the MMO assessed the Marine Conservation Zone objectives and the risk of damageto shipwrecks and fallen aircraft in the area.

Joanna Thomson. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS
Joanna Thomson. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS

Joanna Thomson, GSSOS campaign co-ordinator said: "Personal appeals from Lewis Pugh, the UN Patron of the Oceans, to Michael Gove have not yet borne fruit and even the discovery of an apparent Second World War bomber on the edge of the dredging zone has not dented the armour plated coating of the MMO.”

"We therefore have no alternative but to take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity and start legal proceedings.”

Record-breaking swimmer Lewis Pugh
Record-breaking swimmer Lewis Pugh

Lewis Pugh had broken a world record by swimming the entire length of the English Channel, arriving in Dover on August 29.

This was to highlight ocean pollution and that day he met Environment Secretary Michael Gove and spoke against the dredging of the Sands.

Mr Pugh now said: "We have a unique opportunity to simultaneously respect both our historical and our ecological heritage. I urge the UK government to fully protect Goodwin Sands”.

Last month GSSOS wrote to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to get Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to revoke or at least suspend the licence.

This was after a diver produced pictures of what was thought to be remains of a Second World War aircraft in the buffer zone of the newly-licensed area.

The cheque presentation from the Thanet Fishermen's Association. From left are John Nicholls of the- TFA, Fiona Punter of GSSOS AND Merlin Jackson and Martin Jackson of the TFA. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS
The cheque presentation from the Thanet Fishermen's Association. From left are John Nicholls of the- TFA, Fiona Punter of GSSOS AND Merlin Jackson and Martin Jackson of the TFA. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS

The Thanel Fishermen's Association, has already contributed to the GSSOS fighting fund, donating an undisclosed four-figure sum.

The group says its traditional fishing grounds are increasingly under threat from seabed development.

GSSOS co-ordinator Fiona Punter said: "We are extremely grateful to the TFA for their very generous donation which has given our legal fighting fund a real boost.

"We believe the importance of the fishing grounds on the Goodwins to this vital part of our local community must not be underestimated.”

John Nichols, chairman of TFA, said: “Our traditional fishing grounds are becoming the most developed area of seabed in the UK.

"Dredging, wind farms and interconnectors are all having a serious impact on our fishing areas.

" The mitigation measures proposed in the Goodwin Sands consent, for commercial fishing, are woefully inadequate which gives us no option but to continue to challenge this decision.”

Further support for the campaign came recently from Sir Tim Smit CORR of the Eden Project in Cornwall and his son Edward, who have recently acquired the Charleston Shipwreck Museum, also in Cornwall.

Edward Smit said: “The fight against the dredging of the Goodwin Sands, an important environmental site and the site of numerous World War II graves, is a project close to all of our hearts and one worth fighting for.”

The continuing redevelopment of of Dover Western Docks as photographed earlier this year
The continuing redevelopment of of Dover Western Docks as photographed earlier this year

The Port of Dover argues that it only wants to dig 0.22% of the Sands.

It says this is needed to help provide jobs, regeneration, tourism and new business from the DWDR.

A port spokesman today said:“We are aware that the MMO has received a pre-action protocol letter in respect of a judicial review challenge, and as an interested party we have been duly informed.

“The MMO is an independent, evidence-based decision maker and in order to make an informed decision has considered all the information made available through the application and the public consultation process.”

An MMO spokesman said: "The Marine Management Organisation received a judicial review pre-action protocol letter on September 25 in response to its decision to issue a marine licence to Dover Harbour Board for dredging in the Goodwin Sands.

“The MMO is currently in the process of preparing responses to each of the grounds in the pre-action protocol letter and is unable to provide further comment at this time.”

The GSSOS crowdfunding link, which went live at 11am today, is crowdjustice.com/case/help-us-save-the-goodwin-sands/

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