email received 30/1/12
Shingle Extraction On Dungeness Point Explained- the arguments & the acronyms
Because the application is from two bodies, with entirely different aims it is quite hard to get a handle on it. But feelings run high, particularly amongst pesky fishermen who believe they know more about the effects of longshore drift than the next lubber.
EDF + EA = DAFT
Teaming up with EDF (Electricite de France) the EA (Environment Agency) has applied for a 12 year application of something they already admit in their own report will be useless and even counterproductive after even one year; 'Shingle recharge is….an expensive operation and provides a low standard of protection against flooding which can lead to failure of the defences.' So why, your average Dungie Punter (DP) might justifiably ask, is their application going ahead and…..for twelve years?
Dungeness is world-famous. This proposal makes a monetarist mockery of any 'special' protection that bodies like the EA are meant to provide. No assessment has been made of the marine impact or on the bird population. I'm not allowed to dig up a sea kale plant from in front of my house but between them the EA and EDF think they will be allowed to quarry and root out all the biodiversity they want for as long as they like.
Messrs. Halcrow Ltd ( who deliver 'Planning, Design and Management Services for developing infrastructure and buildings worldwide') have been hired to represent EDF and the EA, who seemingly cannot be trusted to speak for themselves together convincingly to the KCC (Kent County Council, the present arbiters). For a cool £54,000 Halcrow have bulked out this essentially unworkable Public+ Private sector application in a way designed to overawe any opposition; but they make a poor case, full of omissions and errors. For instance, they have ignored counter-proposals- the fact the beach has been successively 'pushed up' in the army range for years in the 2 weeks when the range closes down over Christmas, to diminish overtopping. With the exception of the 'unmanaged' danger to a few houses in Juries' Gap the coast, as early C20 birdwatchers' books show, has stayed the same there for at least a hundred years there, and the threat of even temporary flooding is not great.
On the other hand, if we get another 1287 storm, which rewrote the coastline from Romney to Winchelsea, all the shingle on the beach isn't going to make that much difference.
As far as EDF's application goes it applies to the bund, also known as a berm, the long mound of stones on the beach in front of the power station. It was deposited by 30 ton off-road quarry trucks, some time after the power stations were completed as a precautionary measure. The fact the sea when it rises can go over (or round) a 'tsunami bund' rendering it ineffectual has been very graphically demonstrated in Fukoshima recently. However, keeping the bund topped up for the few remaining years of Dungeness nuclear generation – should EDF deem it legally necessary- is something they could do easily by pushing up some of the huge quantities of spoil irregularly left on the beach in front of the station. But then there would not have been a job for Halcrow's busy Planning Design and Management Services. And so again, the idea was discounted- hardly surprising, since it had been suggested by local fishermen, the same folk who had the temerity to suggest they knew better about the essential unsuitability of the site chosen for the power station than the experts.
EDF's case, made (entirely) on grounds of cost, that they should be allowed to despoil the area again as they did before and quarry an increasingly tourist-heavy protected area RAMSAR & SSSI etc., has to be set against their own annual profits of billions, and the likely losses of peace to the local residents fishing industry and tourists. The more you look into beach 'feeding' application from the EA or EDF (Electricite de France) the less it looks like a smart move.
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