Kent

Dungeness beach: 'Britain's only desert' bought by EDF

Dungeness Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The owners of Dungeness B power station bought the shingle beach for more than £1.5m

A shingle beach, dubbed "Britain's only desert" by the Met Office, has been bought by the owners of a neighbouring nuclear power station.

The 468-acre Dungeness Estate, in Kent has been sold to EDF Energy for more than £1.5m.

The headland, which juts into the English Channel, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has 29 homes built from railway carriages on it.

EDF said its intention was to be a "responsible owner of the land".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Film director Derek Jarman lived in Dungeness in the years leading up to his death in 1994
Image caption Many people visit Dungeness because of the bleakness of the landscape

'Unique environment'

A spokeswoman for estate agents Strutt & Parker, said she could not reveal the amount it was sold for but said it "exceeded the guide price".

EDF had "stated its intention to continue to work with the local community and special interest groups in respect of the management of this unique environment", she added.

The Dungeness Estate, which includes the cottage where film director Derek Jarman lived, has been part of a family trust since 1964.

Trustee Maurice Ede they were very happy to pass the responsibility of "maintaining an estate such as this" to the energy firm.

When it was put up for sale in August, the estate agent said EDF paid "the best part of £100,000 per annum" to use shingle from the beach to protect the power station.

"Dungeness B has been a huge part of the community for over 30 years; many of our employees live in the area and we bring business to local suppliers," said Dungeness B Station director Martin Pearson.

"We've always worked alongside the local community to preserve and enhance this unique environment and EDF Energy is committed to this."

The Dungeness B power station began generating electricity in 1983. It was scheduled for decommissioning in 2018 but is now scheduled to remain open until 2028.

Image caption The remains of boats and old machinery are scattered across the 468-acre site
Image caption EDF had been paying up to £100,000 per year to use shingle to protect the power station from the sea

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