A number of homes at risk from an adjacent eroding cliff which was close to collapsing have been rescued in a £1 million operation.

A 160-metre chalk cliff face above Eagles Road in Greenhithe was first found to have structural damage around Christmas 2019, with the cliffs eroding over time.

The cliff had seen significant vegetation growth across its surface and due to the presence of trees, major fractures in the rock and a high degree of weathering on the face of the cliff were discovered.

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It was judged that urgent work was required to stabilise the cliff to prevent it from falling on the houses below.

The rescue operation was commissioned by Dartford Borough Council, taking 18 weeks and costing £650,000.

Dartford council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite said: "This is the result of a year-long project, and I am very pleased with the quality of work and the outcome.

"This was a complicated job close to people’s homes and the team at Ingleton Wood worked very hard to ensure that appropriate safety measures were put in place, in addition to protecting local wildlife habitats and minimising damage to the cliff face.

"I understand that the local residents are very appreciative of what’s been achieved and the measures taken to resolve a significant issue.”

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To stabilise the cliff, a 50-tonne mobile crane was deployed by Clifford Delvin and professional tree surgeons got to work removing vegetation, along with an ecologist to ensure no wildlife was disturbed.

A geotechnical specialist was then called in to inspect the cliff and design some remedial measures to protect the residents liking at the toe of the cliff.

Debris netting was installed, and once the risk of collapse had been removed, a 'sleeper wall' was constructed to offer secondary protection.

New shrubs and bird boxes were planted in more appropriate places to replace the nesting habitats lost.

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Chris Mabbutt, partner at Ingleton Wood, said: “Our structural engineering, project management and quantity surveying teams prepared a comprehensive list of works following the initial inspection which provided enough flexibility to adapt the scheme as necessary.

“Once the project progressed and the cliff edge was relieved of the excess weight, it became clear that some areas of the cliff face required more severe remedial works to secure the site.

“As part of this additional work, metal curtains and netting were introduced to the cliff in order to retain future material falling from the cliff face.

"The team worked hard to secure the cliff face for the residents around it, overcoming many complications along the way.”