Let sleep­ing ships lie

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

AN ur­gent cam­paign is un­der way to com­bat the pro­posed dredg­ing of Kent’s fa­mous Good­win Sands, a 10-mile-long sand­bank in the English Chan­nel, rest­ing place of Bat­tle of Bri­tain pi­lots and ‘where the car­casses of many a tall ship lie buried’ (Shake­speare’s The Mer­chant

of Venice)—some 2,000 ship­wrecks to be pre­cise. The area is also home to im­por­tant ma­rine life and is a valu­able nat­u­ral sea de­fence.

Last year, Dover Har­bour Board (DHB) ap­plied for a li­cence to dredge 3.75 mil­lion tons of sand from the area to use as land­fill and con­struc­tion for the Dover Western Docks Re­vival project, which will in­cor­po­rate a new ma­rina with cargo-ship and cruise-liner berths, shops, cafes and restau­rants at the Port of Dover.

Ac­tion group Good­win Sands SOS is con­cerned about the 500 grey and har­bour seals that breed and hunt for fish in the area. Tim­ber from the thou­sands of ships sunk there of­ten washes up nearby, a con­stant re­minder of the wa­tery graves of thou­sands that should not be dis­turbed; dur­ing the Great Storm of 1703, some 1,200 men were lost in just one night, a Ger­man sub­ma­rine that sunk in 1939 has still not been dis­cov­ered and, be­tween May and Novem­ber 1940, 60 planes and 80 air­crew from Bri­tain, Ger­many and Poland were listed as miss­ing over the Good­wins.

DHB has not yet ob­tained a li­cence from the MOD to dis­turb the mil­i­tary air-crash sites (lo­ca­tions un­known), a le­gal re­quire­ment un­der the Pro­tec­tion of Mil­i­tary Re­mains Act 1986, and, al­though an ex­clu­sion zone has been pro­posed to pro­tect East In­dia Com­pany ship Ad­mi­ral Gard­ner, stranded on the sands since 1809, many worry that the sur­round­ing vi­bra­tions of dredg­ing could cause dam­age to the ves­sel.

There have been two pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions and His­toric Eng­land has re­quested that DHB carry out a mag­ne­tome­ter sur­vey. How­ever, al­though this may de­tect iron or steel, to date, no air­craft have been de­tected this way and there is lit­tle hope for wooden ships with­out iron fit­tings.

There are also con­cerns that the dredg­ing would af­fect the ero­sion de­fence pro­vided by the sands, as well as a safe an­chor­age for ships in bad weather known as The Downs.

Visit www.good­win­sandssos.org for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and to sign the pe­ti­tion. You can also email the Ma­rine Man­age­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is con­sid­er­ing grant­ing the li­cence, at ma­rine.con­sents@marine­m­an­age­ment.org.uk, quot­ing the ref­er­ence MLA/2016/00227.

A cam­paign has been launched to pre­vent the dredg­ing of Good­win Sands, rest­ing place of count­less war he­roes and sailors

More than 700 years old, Gio­vanni da Ri­mini’s ex­quis­ite late-me­dieval paint­ing Scenes from the Lives of the Vir­gin and Other Saints will be un­veiled at the Na­tional Gallery, Lon­don WC2, this sum­mer. The panel was ac­quired in 2015 thanks to a gen­er­ous do­na­tion by a New York col­lec­tor, with whom it will re­main for the du­ra­tion of his life­time, not count­ing a few so­journs to Trafal­gar Square, of which this is the first (June 14 to Oc­to­ber 8).

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