Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay SSSI - Long Pits (031)
Staff member responsible: Jo Dear
Unit Id: 1029310
Unit area (ha): 107.1005
Unit Status: Live Gridref: TR 085 181
Date of last site check: 18/03/2019 Checked by: Jo Dear

Unit 31 has been owned by EDF Energy since Sept 2014. A Higher Tier agreement was started Jan 2016. The Long Pits site has benefited from site management directed under the HT agreement. Previous management was carried out under HT agreement under previous owner Cemex Aggregates Ltd


This area of the SSSI is not as sensitive as other areas of Dungeness due to gravel extraction that was carried out in the 1940's. A layer of shingle was removed from across the whole area and the two 'long' pits dug out. The site since 1940's has recolonised and developed a rich vegetated shingle community that holds much SSSI interest. So whereas a view could be taken to be quite hard line about favourable condition, here there is a case for pragmatism. This acknowledges the re-colonisation that has occurred since 1940's and the benefits that an area of disturbed shingle (from past aggregate activities) can develop if allowed to re-colonise. It does require management. The water table is closer to the surface (as a result of the shingle extraction) and this encourages scrub growth - willow near the Long Pits themselves and bramble more widely across the unit.


Key features:

The secondary lichen heath vegetation.

The prostrate blackthorns.

The wetland vegetation on the Long Pit banks and edges, particularly Baldellia, but also marsh fern, etc. (picked up in Unit 30)

There is also invertebrate interest on the vegetated shingle, wetland edges and nesting birds using the areas of scrub growth.


The mosaic of vegetation adds value – shelter for invertebrates, nectar sources, etc.


As a result of the past shingle excavation the site is succeeding in the direction of willow, where dampness permits, so the exposed shingle cannot be left unmanaged as a lot more willow will establish and overshadow the SSSI interests.  The factors that benefit blackthorn also benefit bramble and willow unfortunately. 


Prostrate Blackthorns - the bramble has been carefully removed by cutting and targeted chemical control in and amongst the prostrate blackthorn. Just needs regular work parties. 


More bare ground could be created on those existing patches of bare clay and clinker (result of past works on the site/railway) for invertebrates that like bare ground.



Site visit and Land Management Meeting attended with EDF Energy on 4th September 2018 reported on the work that has been carried out and the benefits. Guidance on future management actions discussed and agreed.

Condition and Comments (click for history): Unfavourable - Recovering Assessed by: CLAUDIE SCULLEY
Last assessed: 18/03/2010 Last assessment field visit: 18/03/2010
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Last CSM assessment: 18/03/2010
Estimated year unit will go Favourable: 2020 Confidence in estimate: High
Comment: This unit includes an extensive area of shingle ridges and intervening hollows of high geomorphological interest. The surface fossil ridge topography is largely intact and there is no evidence of significant recent disturbance of shingle. The buried geomorphological interest is also intact. Extensive areas of vegetated shingle are present. Much of this vegetation is of high quality but large areas, particularly the lower-lying damp parts, have become dominated by dense scrub. This is resulting in loss of extent of the vegetated shingle vegetation and reduced plant diversity in those area where scrub is encroaching so that key targets for the feature are not currently being achieved. A strategy is now in place to address the scrub problem and funding has been secured to support appropriate management.
Number of adverse condition reasons: 1
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