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Farmers on land famous for appearing in Dickens’ Great Expectations have won funding from a government scheme, designed to protect wildlife and sustain the beauty of the English countryside.

Four Kent tenant farmers on our Allhallows and Cliffe Estates which in combination total 1,400 acres, have won a long-term subsidy from Natural England under the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement.

It means they must take steps to encourage biodiversity and ensure wildlife habitats in their care are sustained and improved. In return they will receive around £20,000 government funding per year for 
10 years.

The marshes of Cliffe were described in Great Expectations
as a “dark flat wilderness” – where the story’s hero Pip first encounters his secret benefactor Magwitch.
It’s also featured in the Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket and once formed part of the doomed Cliffe Airport project.

Much of the land at Cliffe Marshes is wet grassland managed as grazing sites for cattle, sheep and horses.

Tenant farmer Keith Loveridge works nearly 300 acres on the site.
He said: “I’ve been here for about 18 years and currently I’m grazing Aberdeen Angus cows and Romney sheep on the land.
“The HLS agreement has made a great deal of difference to how I manage the land. Habitats for many kinds of bird including lapwings, redshanks and more have been protected and their numbers are increasing. Trees must be clipped regularly, ditches looked after. It’s quite a job and involves putting wildlife high up the list of importance, on top of my

normal work. It works too, I’ve seen a huge amount of species’ numbers increasing.”
Head of property John Ball said the HLS agreement is quite demanding of tenant farmers but it is a positive initiative for the sustainability of wildlife and management of the land in general.

He added: “The land will have to be kept in a good condition for 10 years, according to the HLS agreement, and we will continue to work with tenant farmers and Natural England to achieve this.”







Port of London Authority, London River House, Royal Pier Road, Gravesend, Kent DA12 2BG. +44 (0) 1474 562200