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Goodwin Sands anti-dredging campaign loses in High Court

Campaigners fighting the dredging of the Goodwin Sands have vowed to press on despite losing a major court battle.

The Honourable Sir Duncan Ouseley, at the High Court in London, has rejected the protesters' case.

Joanna Thomson and legal representatives earlier this year. From left Daniel Piccinin of the legal firm Brick Court Chambers, Mrs Thomson, Paul Taylor of Richard Buxton Ltd (solicitors). Picture courtesy of Goodwin Sands SOS
Joanna Thomson and legal representatives earlier this year. From left Daniel Piccinin of the legal firm Brick Court Chambers, Mrs Thomson, Paul Taylor of Richard Buxton Ltd (solicitors). Picture courtesy of Goodwin Sands SOS

The judgment has been announced following a day-long Judicial Review heard on June 5.

Joanna Thomson, spokesman for Goodwin Sands SOS, told KentOnline:“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."

The legal point on which the Judicial Review had originally been granted was whether the Marine Management Organisation had assessed the impact of removing the volume of sand, not just the surface area, from the Sands.

Goodwin Sands. Picture: Ian Goodban
Goodwin Sands. Picture: Ian Goodban

It was also on whether by not assessing the volume an accurate Marine Conservation Zone assessment had been carried out.

The judge rejected the argument ofthe applicant, Mrs Thompson.

The defendant was the government's Marine Management Organisation, which had in July 2018 granted the Port of Dover a licence to dredge a small section of the shiftings sands near Deal.

It wants to take aggregate for its Dover Western Docks Revival project.

GSSOS is against this, fearing damage to the environment and disturbance of war graves.

The continuing progress on the Dover Western Docks Revival, as photographed this summer. Picture: Sam Lennon
The continuing progress on the Dover Western Docks Revival, as photographed this summer. Picture: Sam Lennon

Mrs Thompson added: "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.

Tthe Archaeological Written Scheme of Investigation (AWSI), yet to be formulated, should provide protection for these and we shall fight to ensure that it does, if necessary by further legal action.

"The issue of allowing dredging of a protected habitat in a Marine Conservation Zone also needs addressing at the highest level as it makes a complete mockery of the whole MCZ programme.

"Protection must mean protection.”

Dover Harbour Board was involved in the court case as an interested party.

A spokesman now said: “The Port of Dover is obviously pleased by the recent judgement in the High Court to sustain the MMO's decision to grant a marine licence.

“The initial decision by the MMO followed an extensive, iterative and consultative process which included all respective primary consultees, among them Historic England and Natural England.

"The port authority stressed that the MMO's licence had conditions specifically to protect the environment, war graves, archaeology, and the wider historic environment.

The spokesman added: “We are fully confident that the robust safeguards identified in the licence will serve to protect the Sands during the extraction process.

" When we execute the licence and proceed with the dredging for our vital regeneration (DWDR0 we will work closely with the respective experts and stakeholders to ensure that these conditions are fully met.”

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