Large section of Dover's White Cliffs falls into English Channel


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The Independent Online

A large section of Dover’s famous White Cliffs has tumbled into the English Channel.

Tonnes of chalk collapsed when part of the cliff-face sheared off near St Margaret’s Bay between Dover and Deal in Kent. A bench and some fencing on the cliff-top came crashing down with the chalk, which is now lying in a mound at the base.

Dover Coastguard has warned ramblers of the danger.

“Coastguard rescue officers were tasked to make an assessment of the area and take some pictures which were sent off to the relevant authorities,” a spokesman said.

“The cliff-fall extends about 150 yards from the base of the cliff towards the sea at ground level, and the fall is about 15ft to 20ft high.”

It is thought the cliffs were weakened when rainwater froze after being absorbed into the chalk and expanded. This, combined with high winds, brought down the cliff section.

In March last year, an even larger section of the cliffs crumbled after a winter of freezing weather.

The cliffs’ owners, the National Trust, are aware of the latest incident and warning signs have been installed to keep walkers out of danger.

A National Trust spokesman said: “This cliff fall is part of a process of natural regeneration that happens on this world famous stretch of the Kent coast, helping to keep this special place, recognised by millions across the world, so distinctive.

“Throughout the year we closely monitor how the elements affect the chalk cliffs, helping us to manage the coastal footpath.”

The cliffs were immortalised by Dame Vera Lynn's wartime song The White Cliffs of Dover, and they play host to an array of wildlife, including the Adonis blue butterfly and peregrine falcons.