Cliffe Pools Habitat Enhancement

Conservation working in partnership with industry to benefit wetland and wading birds at Cliffe Pools

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, amongst grass


A wildlife haven

Cliffe Pools is a 237 ha. complex of saline and brackish pools created by old clay diggings and river dredgings. Collectively this represents 5% of England’s declining stock of saline lagoons .
It attracts many thousands of over- wintering waders and ducks, and in spring significant colonies of breeding birds. The scrub offers one of the best places in England to hear nightingales. 

Working in partnership

To enhance the habitats for the birds and other wildlife that use the site we need dredgings and arisings from major infrastructure projects  to reduce the depth of the pools. There is already an extensive trail network and the new habitat will give people better opportunities to view wildlife.
To achieve  our objectives, we are working with our commercial partners, Boskalis Westminster and the Brett Group. The latter own adjacent pools that are also recognised internationally for their importance to wildlife, and the company shares our ecological objectives. 
The combined pools offer 5 million tonnes of capacity and are accessible by river or rail. We are keen to hear from national infrastructure or dredging projects with significant amounts of suitable material to dispose of, who would welcome an opportunity to deliver valuable environmental  benefits in the Thames Estuary.


  • To enhance internationally important habitats for birds and other wildlife.

  • To improve opportunities for people to experience wildlife.

  • To promote the “beneficial reuse ” of construction arisings and dredgings.
  • To show that development can help enhance biodiversity. 

  • To contribute to the RSPB Greater Thames Futurescape - managing land for life on a landscape scale.

Key Dates

2001: The RSPB acquired the site with Heritage Lottery Fund and other support.
2003: Cliffe Pools and the wider area saved from the threat of the Cliffe Airport development proposal
2015: The RSPB, Boskalis Westminster and the Brett Group achieved planning consent for the deposition and habitat enhancement project.

Planned Work

Hydrological control structures to improve water level management.


  • The RSPB, Boskalis Westminster & WYG Planning Magazine and Planning Resources Award for Waste and Minerals Planning 2015. By building with nature, Boskalis Westminster help preserve or even strengthen environmental assets without compromising the economic benefits. 
  • The Brett Group has won 51 awards and commendations over 47 years for their quarry restoration and biodiversity projects in and around the South East of England.


The partnership with the commercial companies will provide the RSPB with a significant “in kind” contribution towards habitat enhancement.


Cliffe Pools, North Kent - a sustainable solution for infrastructure, wildlife and people

Cliffe Pools, North Kent - a sustainable solution for infrastructure, wildlife and people


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Cliffe Pools Leaflet


Coast on a stormy day

Sarah Cooper

Regional Project Manager
Tagged with: Country: England Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Marine and intertidal Habitat: Wetland Habitat: Woodland Species: Avocet Species: Black-headed gull Species: Dunlin Species: Goldeneye Species: Lapwing Species: Marsh harrier Species: Nightingale Species: Pochard Species: Redshank Species: Shoveler Project status: Ongoing Project types: Site protection