Kent

Dredging threat to Goodwin Sands wildlife and eco-system

Goodwin Sands
Image caption Sand and gravel will be taken from Goodwin Sands and used on construction projects in Dover

Dredging on the Goodwin Sands would impact wildlife and endanger eco-systems, conservationists have said.

The Port of Dover plans to remove up to 3m cubic yards (2.5m cubic metres) of sand and gravel.

The area being explored in the recommended Marine Conservation zone covers an areas of 4.5 square miles about eight miles (12km) from Dover.

The sand and gravel will be transported to the Western Docks for land reclamation and construction works.

The Port of Dover wants to relocate its cargo business to a new terminal at Western Docks to create extra space within Eastern Docks for ferry traffic.

The redevelopment plans also include shops, hotels and bars and the creation of a new marina.

Dover Harbour Board has previously said the plans would create 600 new jobs.

Image caption Grey and common seals haul up on Goodwin Sands at low tide

The Goodwin Sands are a series of shifting sandbanks. They provide habitat for grey and common seals and birds and are the site of hundreds of historic shipwrecks.

Bryony Chapman, from the Kent Wildlife Trust, said: "It's bound to have an impact on the sediment habitats there and the important mussel beds and ross worm reefs which provide the basis for the food chain.

"We are also really worried about the amount of sediment being removed and what impact that could have on coastline and important conservation areas on the coast."

Alan Breck, project manager for Dover Western Docks Revival, said an environmental impact assessment was being undertaken to assess the effect dredging would have on the area.

He said: "Goodwin Sands contains an important aggregate resource and has been dredged previously for fill aggregate for infrastructure projects at the Port of Dover and Port of Ramsgate."

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