SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Chesil Beach and The Fleet

image: SPA location map 


Chesil Beach and The Fleet SPA is located on the south coast of England in Dorset. It is a long linear shingle beach (Chesil Bank) enclosing a brackish lagoon (the Fleet). The Fleet is the largest and best example of a barrier-built saline lagoon in the UK and Chesil is one of the three major shingle structures in the UK. The salinity gradient, peculiar hydrographic regime and varied substrates, together with associated reedbed and intertidal habitats and the relative lack of pollution in comparison to most other lagoons, have resulted in the Fleet being extraordinarily rich in wildlife. Outstanding communities of aquatic plants and animals are present, supporting large numbers of wintering waterbirds, including Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla. In spring and summer, Chesil Bank is an important breeding site for Little Terns Sterna albifrons which feed in the shallow waters of the lagoon, as well as adjacent waters outside the SPA.


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section

This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
During the breeding season;
Little Tern Sterna albifrons, 55 pairs representing up to 2.3% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1997)
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
Over winter;
Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, 3,182 individuals representing up to 1.1% of the wintering Western Siberia/Western Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) 



Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.