The Charnel House Project – protecting our heritage
Set in a Hoo Peninsula landscape that inspired Charles Dickens to write ‘Great Expectations’ and overlooking globally important wetlands lies the village of Cliffe and this photograph from Friends of the North Marshes Flickr photostream shows the opening of the restored Charnel House on the 28th June 2008 – one of only three in the whole of Kent – located in the north west corner of St Helens churchyard.
The Charnel House was restored with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Groundwork Kent & Medway and St Helens PCC. Friends of the North Kent Marshes were proud to be a part of this wonderful project.
Many visitors come to this historic village and as part of the project Friends of the North Kent Marshes produced some free self guided trails around Cliffe to promote and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of this unique area.
A vision to create one of the country’s best nature reserves for wetland wildlife has inched closer with planning permissions being secured.
This will allow for clean sand, gravel and clay from construction and tunneling work to be used at Cliffe Pools in North Kent; in addition to the river dredgings we have had to date
Working with our commercial partner, Boskalis Westminster, and consultants WYG, we’ll use the excavated material to alter the depth and shape of the man-made lagoons, making them more attractive for wildlife, especially winter migrants and breeding birds such as avocet and common terns.
Development and erosion have reduced the amount of naturally occurring shallow banks and mudflats in the Thames Estuary where birds and other wildlife can feed and breed.
Project Manager Sarah Cooper says: “Cliffe Pools is already a great site for wildlife, but securing these consents allows us over the next few years to create a magnet for waders and wildfowl, which currently struggle to find suitable living space along the Thames. It shows that conservation and business can work together to bring benefits for both wildlife and people. The project perfectly demonstrates the ethos and sense of the European Directives, which encourage such partnerships, and shows why proposals to alter them should be resisted.
Please sign here today to tell politicians not to weaken the European Directives that protect RSPB Cliffe Pools from inappropriate and damaging development such as a Thames Estuary Airport. The consultation closes on the 24th July.
A mini influx of black-winged stilts has brought a touch of the Mediterranean to southern England, as two pairs of these exotic-looking wading birds are attempting to nest at RSPB sites in West Sussex and Kent.
It is thought that a dry spell in southern Spain has displaced these wetland birds to southern Britain. And it is believed that a changing climate may bring these birds to Britain more regularly in future. The only times black-winged stilts have bred successfully in the UK was in Norfolk in 1987 and Nottinghamshire in 1945.
One pair is nesting on the RSPB’s newest reserve in West Sussex, Medmerry, the other pair at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe Pools on the north Kent marshes.
“This is really exciting news and the first time we have had black-winged stilts breeding on the reserve here at Cliffe Pools,” said Warden Andy Daw. “They have visited before and a pair was seen about seven years ago on the reserve but they did not produce any young.
Yet another great reason to protect this special place for wildlife and say #jeThames #noestuaryairport
It was a great pleasure for us to spend time with author Julian Hoffman when he came to visit us here on the Hoo Peninsula ~ Ours IS the marsh country down by the river and we will fight with the utmost vigour to protect it ~ No Thames estuary airport ever!
“Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.”
~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1861
“Large terminals, operational buildings, offices, roads and car parks will interrupt the broad open scale of the marsh landscape… The network of ditches and creeks running through the marshes will be severely affected or destroyed…Existing open views out over the Estuary will be lost and replaced by terminal buildings, aircraft hangers and extensive areas of paving…The low hills of the Hoo Peninsula rising out of the surrounding marshland will be lost entirely.”
~ Foster + Partners, Thames Hub AirportProposal to the Airports Commission, 2013