Natalie is backing calls to improve environmental protection for the Goodwin Sands. Meeting with Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, Natalie made the case for protecting the Sands for future generations by making a new class of ‘special marine interest’ sites in the Government’s upcoming Environment Bill.
Campaigners from Goodwin Sands SOS say the Sands should be protected as they potentially contain dozens of aircraft and airmen from the Battle of Britain and major shipwrecks, as well as support diverse sea life including colonies of seals.
Natalie met with campaigners on Walmer seafront on Friday (January 24) to outline her plan for future protection of the site. Her plan would see new Sites of Specific Marine Interest created, with similar standards of protection to Sites of Specific Scientific Interest on land. It would place a higher threshold for invasive commercial activity, such as dredging, than the current system of Marine Conservation Zones.
Natalie says: “The Goodwin Sands are a special part of our environment and should be afforded greater recognition and protection. On land we have different designations for different categories of protected environmental assets. I would like to see that approach extended to special marine habitats like the Goodwin Sands.
“Goodwin Sands SOS has done valuable work raising awareness about the Sands, our maritime history and wider marine life. I want to build on the passion for our local Goodwin Sands that so special marine habitats can have stronger protections for future generations. I will also be working with the Group to seek further engagement with government agencies about the management and mitigation strategies around the planned dredging work.”
Joanna Thomson of the Goodwin Sands SOS Group said: “The Goodwins are an important part of our national heritage but they are vulnerable to exploitation. No other area in UK waters holds so much marine history. The Sands are also environmentally significant as they protect the vulnerable East Kent foreshore and create a natural anchorage.
“The Goodwin Sands Conservation Trust has been set up to conserve and protect the Sands for the benefit of the public. The Trustees very much welcome Natalie’s work to see the upcoming Environment Bill strengthened to help make this possible.”