Creation of Samphire Hoe
After considerable discussion in which around 60 sites were proposed 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.
Extensive research revealed then that depositing spoil at the base of the cliff in artificial lagoons constructed with sheet piled walls was the most environmentally acceptable option. This also had the added advantage of providing an increased work area as tunnelling works progressed.
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.
Key dates from construction to the official opening
February 1988: completion of the first of the new sea walls
December 1990: near completion of the last spoil lagoon
October 1993: removal of the contractors’ buildings; landscaping of the platform; first seeding of the land
6 May 1994: official opening of the Channel Tunnel
17 July 1997: opening to the public of Samphire Hoe