Natural England Conservation Advice for Marine Protected Areas
Dover to Deal MCZ

This advice is draft. Once this advice is published as formal advice it becomes Natural England’s statutory advice and replaces the previous advice packages. In the interim, the draft advice should be used as a basis for informing management and case work as it reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by Natural England.

Natural England guidance

This site collection contains Natural England’s conservation advice for this site. It fulfils Natural England’s responsibility under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, to give advice on how to further the conservation objectives for the site, identify the activities that are capable of affecting the designated features and the processes which they are dependent upon.

Natural England's conservation advice for this site is made up of a number of components. You will need to consider: Additional information for consideration:

Site information

Site name: Dover to Deal MCZ
Designation type: MCZ
Site identification: UKMCZ0032
Latest designation date: 31 May 2019
Designated features
(click to see site specific description):

General information on the site features:
The general information on the designated features from the MCZ features catalogue is useful for understanding the designated features, and should be used in conjunction with the site specific information.
Designated area (ha): 991.44
Moderation/boundary changes: Site designated 29 January 2016. Amended 31 May 2019 to add additional features: Moderate energy ciraclittoral rock; High energy circalittoral rock; Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) beds and Ross worm (Sabellaria spinulosa) reefs.
Component Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI):
Overlapping Protected Areas:

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Background information and geography

Dover to Deal Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) is an inshore site, located off the Kent coast, to the east of the Strait of Dover in the eastern English Channel. The site stretches from just east of Dover to Kingsdown, immediately south of Deal. The MCZ protects approximately 991 ha of intertidal and subtidal habitats, extending 3km offshore.

Much of the site is dominated by chalk, a relatively rare coastal habitat in Europe. Extensive wave-cut chalk platforms are located at the base of the iconic white cliffs of Dover, which are naturally eroding into the sea. The chalk platforms form extensive tide-swept chalk reef which extend into the subtidal, featuring gullies, creeks, boulders and rockpools. These habitats are especially diverse and support extensive communities of seaweeds, kelp, sponges, anemones and associated mobile fauna. The chalk foreshore at St Margaret’s Bay has one of the richest algal communities in the south east. Intertidal coarse sediment and sand is found towards the north of the site, with large shingle beaches located at Kingsdown.

Further offshore, the heterogeneous sediments of the eastern English Channel dominate, often covering the underlying bedrock in a thin veneer of sediment. Mixed sediment constitutes much of the offshore sediment within the site, with some areas of subtidal sand.

Tube-building Ross worm reefs are distributed across the site, with large reef located subtidally off Kingsdown and Fan Bay. The MCZ is special in that it supports Ross worm reef on chalk habitats, which is especially rare across Europe. Extensive Ross worm reefs are also located on areas of mixed sediment. In addition to Ross worm, the MCZ is designated for blue mussel and native oyster beds. These species are important ecosystem engineers and can have many benefits for other faunal and algal communities.

Dover to Deal MCZ is adjacent to the Port of Dover and one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, with approximately 400 commercial vessels passing through the Strait each day.

Site maps

Use the MAGIC website to see site maps, including habitats, species and other marine designations.

These maps are based on best available evidence, there are some caveats associated with the maps on MAGIC.

Conservation objectives

The site's conservation objectives apply to the Marine Conservation Zone and the individual species and/or habitat for which the site has been designated (the 'Designated features' listed below.

The conservation objective of each of the zones is that the protected habitats:

  1. are maintained in favourable condition if they are already in favourable condition
  2. be brought into favourable condition if they are not already in favourable condition

Any temporary deterioration in condition of a habitat feature is to be disregarded if the habitat is sufficiently healthy and resilient to enable its recovery.

Any temporary reduction of numbers of a species is to be disregarded if the population is sufficiently thriving and resilient to enable its recovery.

Any alteration to that feature brought about entirely by natural processes is to be disregarded.

Designated features:

  • High energy intertidal rock
  • Moderate energy intertidal rock
  • Low energy intertidal rock
  • Intertidal coarse sediment
  • Intertidal sand and muddy sand
  • Intertidal underboulder communities
  • Littoral chalk communities
  • Moderate energy infralittoral rock
  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock
  • High energy circalittoral rock
  • Subtidal chalk
  • Subtidal mixed sediments
  • Subtidal sand
  • Blue mussel beds
  • Ross worm reefs
  • Native oyster (Ostrea edulis)

Supplementary Advice on Conservation Objectives

See supplementary advice on conservation objectives for this site, which aim to describe the range of ecological attributes that are most likely to contribute to a site’s overall integrity.

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Advice on Operations

See the advice on operations for this site to view information on the sensitivity of features in this site to the pressures exerted by different activities.

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Feature Condition

In 2016, Natural England trialled and rolled out a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) condition assessment methodology that provides robust results and information on the condition of marine features designated within MPAs in England. With guidance from National teams and using all available evidence and condition monitoring data, Area Teams conduct these assessments following a standardised approach that assesses if the feature and sub feature conservation targets set for each MPA have been met.

To date, condition assessments have been completed for a number of features in a range of marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) by the National and Area Teams. Further marine habitat features in SACs and other MPAs will continue to be assessed in the future. The new method can now also be applied to complete habitat and species condition assessments for other MPAs in England, whilst still meeting the different processes in place to report on the results of condition of features in Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Different processes are currently in place to decide and report on the condition of non-marine habitat and species features of SACs.

The main part of the assessment process is directly undertaken and stored here on Natural England’s Designated Sites View. The details for the most recent assessments of this site can be found here.

Management measures

If you are carrying out an environmental assessment, planning an operation or assessing an operation or proposal, it is important to consult with the following organisations where applicable. To find out if any management measures, byelaws or other restrictions apply to your activity see the management measure page or you can use the following links for more information.

The Marine Management Organisation license, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England and Wales so that they’re carried out in a sustainable way.
Environment Agency are responsible for regulating major industry and waste, water quality and resources, fisheries, inland river, estuary and harbour navigations, conservation and ecology.
Offshore Petroleum Regulator for the Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) regulates oil and gas, CCS and gas storage activities in the marine environment.

Further information

For further information relating to this designated site you can refer to the following resources:
Site specific information: Other information:
For further information about this site contact: Natural England enquiries Telephone: 0300 060 3900. Email: