Buckland Lake Reserve

History

Information and aerial views of Buckland Lake

Buckland Lake South is a former chalk quarry that has been left to flood, leaving water depths of between 7 and 16 metres (22 – 60 feet).

The chalk was quarried together with clay from the marshes to form cement, the former cement factory lying just beyond the western end of the lake.

Some of the clay pits remain, forming an extensive series of lakes to the north-western end of Buckland Lake. These are known as the Cliffe Pools and are a wildlife jewel in the crown for the RSPB and a regular past haunt of Bill Oddie.

After years of pumping the quarries dry the pumps accidently failed around 1967 -1970. The water level rose so fast that full salvage of the railway set up, pumping houses and many other items of electircal equipment was not possible. These remain even now beneath the deep waters of the lake and provide divers with hours of interest and discovery over the years.

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The flooded quarry was initially used for trout fishing from small boats, until an algal bloom killed off the stock. At that time, the lake was far shallower than it is today.

Designation of the lake as part of the South Thames Estuary and Marshes SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) and ‘Ramsar site’ (International Importance), meant the lake could no longer be used throughout the entire year and the owner was granted permission to section off the eastern end to create a fishery.

In 2001, Doug Hilton and his family bought the lake as a 'connecting people with the environment' project as part of the Snowgoose Wildlife Trust aims.

They completed the fishing area by importing clean subsoil and everything around the fishery area has grown since 2007. Without highly fertile topsoils wildlife plants thrive best and nowhere is this more apparent than at Buckland Lake during the summer.

After establishing the three fishing lakes came the Scuba Diving centre. This provides all types of triaining and is available for visiting divers to explore the lake. In addition to the original quarry remains, there are probably more underwater features than any other diving lake in the UK including jet planes, boat wrecks a double deck bus and even a great whie shark!

Planning permission to create bank supports around the lake with clean imported soil was obtained to stop the sides eroding and form breeding, feeding and roosting areas.

Since that time, however, they have strived to find a way around the unfair imposition of landfill tax on the works due to a bureaucratic conflict between European and government legislation. The irony being that the legislative clash concerns laws actually designed to help this kind of project.

A public protest was made in the national newspapers and on television in August 2006 and later, in November Doug crossed the English Channel in an amphibious car belonging to the reserve, to highlight the problems, in the process creating huge publicity for the cause and new world records for the crossing. Click here for the Channel crossing page.

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