Samphire Hoe, Kent, UK

Samphire Hoe is a new piece of land created by Eurotunnel during the construction of the Channel Tunnel.  It covers a 30-hectare site at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff, between Dover and Folkestone.  

It was created for the disposal of the Channel Tunnel spoil. It was decided that the option with the least adverse environmental impact was to reclaim land at the base of Shakespeare Cliff. There was already access to the site from the Dover to Folkestone railway line and through a tunnel in the cliff left from the 1970s tunnel attempt. The main advantage of this location was no need for any transportation of the spoil to another site and the creation of a large platform to be used as a work site as the tunnel was dug.

As the Tunnel boring machines cut the chalk marl it was loaded onto rail tipper wagons, brought back along the tunnel and then moved onto the surface by conveyor belt. 1.7km of sheet piling enclosed lagoons were then infilled with the chalk marl. The area became a 24hours a day work site.

Once construction works were completed, the site was then landscaped to provide an undulating topography including some low lying wetlands.

It is home to more than 200 species of plants (including the rare early spider orchid with 8,500 plants recorded in 2013), 120 species of birds and 30 of butterflies have been recorded. Half of the Hoe was sown with wildflower seeds. This consisted of five mixes totalling 31 species, designed to suit the different conditions on the site. The rest of the site was planted with annual rye grass. This has since died out allowing plants from the surrounding areas to colonise. This newly developed vegetation has attracted a wide variety of wildlife.

Samphire is owned by Eurotunnel and managed together with White Cliffs Countryside Partnership. WCCP ensures a correct balance is struck between visitor access and wildlife conservation.