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Exclusive:- Ramsgate Port’s 60million tonnes aggregate nightmare

Even though it’s under new management, Thanet Council’s hatred of accountability and its love affair with secrecy continues with a vengeance, especially when it comes to anything to do with the Port of Ramsgate.

As a local journalist I asked the Council to let me have more information about Brett Aggregate’s plans to expand their activities at the Port which were discussed at a meeting of the TDC’s Cabinet on 2 March 2023

In keeping with it’s longstanding tradition of Mafia style omerta the council informed me that “disclosure of this information at this time would significantly undermine Brett Aggregates’ commercial standing”.

This despite the fact that Government guidance requires councils to be open and transparent about their commercial activities such as renting almost half of its port space, possibly at an uneconomic rate, to Brett Aggregates, a company which some would say has monopoly-like control over most of the mineral protected wharves in Kent, and most of the mineral protected quarries too.

However, just like Karma what the council tries to keep quite today often comes back to bite it on its corporate culo tomorrow. Just as it has in this case.

A quick check of the Marine Management Organisation’s license application register reveals applications from Volker Dredging Ltd and Hanson Aggregates Ltd to dredge for aggregate in adjacent areas of the English Channel seabed off Beachy Head.

The applications state that between them, Volker and Hanson intend to dredge up to 60 million tonnes of sand and gravel over a 15 year period, at an an average rate of 4million tonnes per year.

According to its website the Brett Group of Companies though one of its subsidiary companies, Britannia Aggregates, works in partnership with Volker Dredging Ltd in “extracting aggregates from the seabed”. So close is this partnership that Volker’s registered address is Robert Brett House, Ashford Road, Canterbury.

Volker and Hanson’s marine license applications both say that their dredgers are typically capable of removing 5,000‐12,000 tonnes per cargo. Being a generous person let’s say the average cargo is 8,000 tonnes which means that to reach the target of 4million tonnes per year, there will have to be 500 cargoes of seabed dredged aggregate per year. Over the course of the 15 year licence period there will be a total of 7,500 cargoes.

Volker, Brittania and Hanson are already extracting vast quantities of marine dredged aggregates, a lot of it coming from the English Channel and the Thames Estuary. So their plans for “the extracted sediment (60 million tonnes of it – my insertion) to be delivered to wharves in the southeast of England” will face the problem of limited, and already spoken for, unloading capacity.

The only solution to this problem will be for the dredgers to transport most of the 60 million tonnes of marine-dredged aggregate to Ramsgate Port where there will be sufficient capacity to unloaded, processes, and deliver to, or allow collection by, customers.

This is likely to become a ceaseless 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 15 year sentence of noisy, dusty, and polluting industrial chaos which could easily mean up to ten dredgers per week calling at the Port. Add to this the aggregate washing and crushing facilities which Brett said it would like to introduce the last time it submitted plans to expand its activities at the Port, and there is a recipe for environmental disaster,

Not only will the dredging cause huge, irreparable damage to the seabed and the finely balanced ecosystems and biodiversity it hosts, but the large scale removal of aggregate can also alter tidal patterns causing damage elsewhere. Is it any wonder that the United Nations are now demanding the rapid phasing out of the marine aggregate industry and its replacement with recycled aggregate and the replacement of concrete with a growing number of sustainable alternatives.

10 dirty diesel powered dredgers calling at Ramsgate Port most weeks, plus the hoped for RoRo freight ferries, and the hundreds of particulate spewing HGV lorries that will be attracted to the Port every week, will also generate dangerous levels of airborne pollution which will seriously damage the health of many Ramsgate residents and which will kill some too.

But not a word has our supposedly democratic council said about these plans, even though TDC voted 4 years ago to take all the steps it can to reduce damaging emissions in Thanet.

There can be no doubt that Labour controlled Thanet Council and its leader “Raging” Rick Everitt prefer to protect and favour those who profit from polluting and damaging our environment, such as Brett, Volker and Hanson , at the expense of the health and well-being of the people who they are supposed to serve.

I will continue to fight the council to force them to release the documents they are withholding about Brett’s plans to expand their activities at the Port of Ramsgate and I will fight for a public consultation about these plans which is at the moment being undemocratically denied.

CALL OUT If you have any information you might think will make a good story please contact me. I never ever reveal my stources and am 100% confidential. Call 07866588766 Email



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