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 pumps were turned off in 1970; the water rushing back so fast that they were unable to remove the railway set up, pumping houses and many other items of working equipment. These remain even now beneath the waters of the lake and have provided divers with hours of interest and discovery over the years.
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 ‘putting something back into life’ project and obtained planning permission to create bank supports around the lake with clean imported soil. These are urgently required to stop the sides eroding and will also form ideal feeding, breeding 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.