Thursday, January 28, 2016

Victoria's Green Matters - 28th January 2016

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:

Nobody would argue with the fact that the Port of Dover has a good plan for the revival of the Western Docks and with it, hopefully, the rejuvenation of Dover itself. It cannot be denied that the jobs created by this scheme would be welcomed with open arms in Dover. But – there has to be a ‘but’, doesn’t there? – the plan to dredge the Goodwin Sands to accomplish this development is a step too far.

Does it seem sensible to anyone that an area as sensitive as the Goodwins, which has been designated as a Marine Conservation Zone, would be an area which would be suitable for dredging aggregate to be used for the Dover expansion?

The Goodwin Sands are well known to the local populations of Deal and Dover as an extremely important area for wildlife, both above and below the water. There is a large seal population which depend on the sands where they can leave the water to have their pups and to moult. Peak season for pups is July and moulting time is August. The Goodwins were also recommended for protection for the diversity of its sediment habitats, where there are blue mussel beds and rossworm reefs.

We must not forget, of course, that the Goodwin Sands are a very dangerous stretch of coastal water, responsible for thousands of shipwrecks which still lie out there. In the great storm of 1703, ninety vessels were thought to have been lost.

We must remember that the Sands have been dredged before; the last time in 1998 and the area is still recovering. Seals numbers are now in the hundreds so any work on the Sands will disturb them, particularly since if dredging occurred it would start as early as August this year when the seals have pups and are moulting. Dredging in this phase would end in November 2017.

The Port of Dover is quick to explain that the Goodwins are a favoured source of aggregate because they are close by, limiting carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions and road transport congestion. As Dover is a port, would not transport by ship be a more environmentally friendly solution?

Consultations between the Port of Dover and Kent Wildlife Trust, the Marine Conservation Society and British Divers Marine Life Rescue are continuing and we can only hope that the right decisions are made.

So, Dover, please source your aggregate from elsewhere!

Victoria Nicholls. Transition Deal.

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