Lewis Pugh finished his 530km ‘Long Swim’ today, having swum the length of the English Channel, from Land’s End to Dover. I was determined to meet him on Shakespeare Beach and even the heavens opening with the biggest rainstorm of August couldn’t put me off. I’d heard him speak about plastics in our oceans earlier this year in the House of Commons. My sister is also an open water swimmer and had joined Lewis for a stretch earlier along the coast in Brighton.
Lewis has been highlighting marine conservation issues throughout his swim. As he came onto Shakespeare Beach today he spoke with every media outlet about the importance of stopping the dredge of the Goodwin Sands – I completely agree Lewis. The Western Dock Revival project in Dover must happen, but not at the huge environmental cost of sacking the Goodwins. I hope the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) review their recent decision to give permission to dredge.
There are plenty of politicians locally, and not just Labour ones, that agree with me. Comrades from the Green Party and even a rogue Conservative councillor or two there on Shakespeare beach also want to protect the Goodwin Sands: It is the wreck site of over 1000 vessels, it is a mass grave, it is a nesting site, it is a flood barrier, it is an important zone for nascent marine life.
Notably, Charlie Elphicke MP was absent from the event. I asked a local Tory where Mr Elphicke was; he just shrugged and looked sad.
I’ve joined up with the Save Our Sands Campaign Team spearheaded by Jo, Fiona and Andy. They presented Michael Gove personally with a letter demanding some clarification on issues pertaining to the sands and the dredge. We will be waiting for his reply, hoping that pressure from all corners and the heroics of Lewis, might just help him have those tough conversations with the MMO.