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Mark Rylance Backs Campaign to Stop Dredging off Kent Coast

Posted on July 7, 2016

The actor Mark Rylance has lent his support to a campaign to stop the dredging of a stretch of sandbanks off the Kent coast.

Dover Harbour Board has applied for a licence to dredge Goodwin Sands, which had been proposed as a marine conservation zone, for aggregate to be used in the expansion and development of Dover port.

However, a local campaign called Save Our Sands has been established in an attempt to stop the dredging from happening, and has gathered more than 5,500 signatures on an online petition to prevent it.

Goodwin Sands, located around six miles off the coast from Deal, has been under consideration as a potential marine conservation zone for five years. It is also an important site for both grey and common seals to “haul out” on to the sand tomate and rest.

The area is also famed for the thousands of shipwrecks thought to lie there, and forms part of a notoriously dangerous stretch of coastline.

A public consultation period on the Harbour Board’s application for a licence to dredge is open until 20 July, with members of the public able to contact the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to share their view on a licence being granted.

Rylance has lent his support to the Save Our Sands campaign, speaking about his ancestors who lived in Dover, including his great grandfather, who was the captain of a cross -channel ferry.

The star of Steven Spielberg’s BFG film and TV drama Wolf Hall said he was: “sure they would have supported the campaign to save the Goodwin Sands from dredging for all the very good reasons that the campaign has argued. I support it too.”

The campaign has also been backed by the actor Miriam Margolyes, who was in the Harry Potter films and owns a house locally. In a message of objection to the MMO, she wrote: “I would like to place on record my profound disgust at this brutal application and urge you to drop the whole idea”.

Margolyes continued: “I’ve always believed in the Harbour Board until now and have defended the docks and the people who try to earn their living here in the depressed south-east. But this is a dangerous and appalling project, which will threaten the whole coastline. You have become destroyers of what makes this area so wonderful.”

The campaign against the dredging is being also backed by Marinet, a marine conservation organisation, Kent Wildlife Trust, and the Marine Conservation Society.

In addition to their concerns about the potential environmental impact of the dredging, the Save Our Sands campaign is also arguing that the area should not be dredged because of area’s numerous shipwrecks and maritime war graves. It argues that the sands should consequently be protected under the 1973 Protection of Wrecks Act, and the 1986 Protection of Military Remains Act.

Source: The Guardian

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