I attended a meeting at the Shores Centre in Withernsea on Friday about coastal erosion and offshore dredging. Local residents feel that the dredging is speeding up coastal erosion, so Graham Stuart MP had asked several aggregate producers to be there with their charts and exhibits – which included woolly mammoth tusks and other fossils. About 60 people turned out on a blustery cold evening.
The aggregates representatives explained the high demand for and the origins of the sands and gravels. Residents said that the beaches and cliffs were rapidly disappearing. Reference was made to the
Bill Rigby from Marinet gave an impassioned speech about the effects of aggregate removal on the marine ecosystem. He said that the whole food chain is affected and the consequences are unknown as the areas being dredged are the ancient stony river beds which have sheltered marine life for thousands of years. They cannot ever fully recover.
Prof Mike Cowling, a representative of the Crown Estate, was also present. He said that the coast has been receding for thousands of years and what we see is just a small snapshot in time. A local town councillor retorted, ‘But it’s our moment in time’. The Crown Estate receives a royalty for every tonne dredged (£17.7 million in 07/08). Although much of this revenue goes to the Treasury, many people seemed to feel that it was not surprising that Prof Cowling saw no problem with the dredging. Professor Mike Elliott of the
My contribution was to point out that we all have a responsibility to reduce the demand for gravel and sand. We can stop putting gravel on our gardens for a start. Grass or vegetables are better for averting flooding, better on the eye and the purse. We can live without more airport runways and roads. We can relearn to build our houses with renewable materials such as straw bales – which are cheap to build and have excellent insulation value. We need a joined up approach to coastal management which involves listening to local people. We need Green policies which are not based on ‘growth’ but on life: policies which are not swayed by vested interests, corporations, or funding for weapons and wars.