The future of the famous white cliffs of Dover on England’s south coast has been secured after a public campaign has raised £1 million in just three weeks. The bid to raise the money came about amid fears that a large area of environmentally sensitive land on the clifftops would be sold to developers.
The National Trust raised the alarm at the start of September. By the purchase deadline of September 22, more than 17,500 people had donated the money to buy the 700,000 square metres of land.
A key supporter of the campaign was Dame Vera Lynn, whose 1942 song about the cliffs saw her being named “The Forces’ Sweetheart”.
Dame Vera, who celebrated her 100th birthday this year, has thanked people for protecting the “national icon”.
She is reported as saying: “I am delighted to learn that the small part I played in the campaign to protect the white cliffs of Dover has been so effective.”
The National Trust bought the clifftop in 2012 but later found out the large area of land, between the South Foreland lighthouse and Langdon Cliffs, had become available for sale. (The current landowner has requested confidentiality and their name has not been revealed.)
A spokesperson for the Trust said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the public and thank you all. Any future donations will go to restoring the land.”
The land is a nature haven with some 40 species of flowers and grasses. The Trust hopes to return the land to chalk grassland and create access routes for visitors.
The white cliffs of Dover are a huge tourist attraction and famous worldwide. They have been seen through history as a symbol of home and wartime defence and today offer a fabulous place to enjoy great views, walks and wildlife.
The white cliffs of Dover are a highlight on a walking holiday of the South Downs Way.