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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 8 April
PRESENTER
ALEX KIRBY
Alex Kirby
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Thursday 8 April 2004
A dredger unloads at Dagenham
A dredging ship, the 'Arco Adur' unloads sand and gravel from the sea bed.

Scraping the Seabed

Economist Kate Barker's report for the government recommended the building of one hundred and twenty thousand new homes in the South-East of England.  Those new estates are going to need roads, railways, schools and hospitals.  That's going to require a lot of concrete and that means a huge increase in the demand for sand and gravel, much of which comes from the sea bed around our shores.

In this week’s ‘Costing the Earth’ Alex Kirby joins the crew of a dredger to find out whether this scraping of our sea beds is destroying fish stocks and eroding our coastline.
Fishermen, Paul and Rob
Fisherman, Paul Lines is convinced that dredging has ruined his fishing ground.

Inshore fishermen from Norfolk claim that the intense programme of dredging along their shores has wiped out many ofthe fish they catch and disruptedthe complex life forms of the ancient gravel beds.In South Wales the people of the Gower peninsula blame the dredgers for the loss of some of their most beautiful beaches.There’s also mounting evidence that the aggregate business could be contributing to the retreat of our coastline. So far most of the gravel has been taken from the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts, the very regions that are losing swathes of land to the sea every year. As gravel is scraped away the shoreline can become more vulnerable to wave and storm action.

There’s now very little extractable gravel around East Anglia so the dredgers are moving south, to the English Channel and the waters around the Isle of Wight. Could the south coast of England soon start suffering the same flooding problems as the east coast?
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