Chesil Beach and The Fleet SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site 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 extraordinarily rich in wildlife, with communities of aquatic plants and animals. This site also supports large numbers of wintering waterbirds, including the dark-bellied brent goose. In spring and summer, Chesil Bank is an important breeding site for little terns, which feed in the shallow waters of the lagoon. 

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 July 1985

Surface Area

7.48 km2 (2.89 mi.2)


34.97 km (21.73 mi.)

  • Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

    A small dark goose which occurs in good numbers at just a few sites in the UK. They are vegetarian and particularly partial to seagrass.

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

Did you know?…

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns