I've been to Dungeness several times to take photos and it's a fantastic location but it seems some people have been abusing the place slightly and this has led to the residents being unhappy which I can sympathise with. I contacted Alison Noyes who runs the excellent Watch Tower B&B and asked if she knew anything and she referred me to Owen Leyshon who is the Site Manager at the Romney Marsh Countryside Project. He was kind enough to clarify some points and with his permission I reproduce his email to me below.
Basically, Dungeness Point is a private Estate since the 1950’s with a single private road. Since we manage the Estate as part of the wider Dungeness National Nature Reserve since 1998 we have a procedure for all photography and filming on the Estate. In the last few years there is now a website to book, pay if you have to, show Public Liability Insurance (PLI) documents and agree everything with myself prior to starting. We also then supervise any shoot/filming on the day if we have to.
As for weekends, we don’t allow any photography and filming through bookings on the website. This has been agreed with the Dungeness Residents Association many years ago to allow some free days for residents. However, this does not apply to general photographers wandering around the Estate on their own on weekends.
However, where the confusion arises is ‘professional’ photographers using the private Estate solo or with friends and due to the sheer number of photographers and general public wandering around the Estate we do monitor and we keep an eye on everyone.
What triggers a call out to me, or intervention by myself is if the photographer brings a model, extra people to assist in a shoot or large groups ie there is a purpose to the visit – I had a quiet word with Erith Camera Club on Saturday who brought a model and c10 of them and they should have asked permission from the landowner/spoke to me before they came to Dungeness. Over the years, all camera clubs have been given permission to photograph for free, but they have gained landowner permission and spoken to me beforehand.
People using Dungeness for general enjoyment and photography is fine- but if they bring props, models and a sniff of professionalism we will have a chat and decide if they can stay on the Estate. As you can imagine we have had many ‘porkie pies’ /I have had it all on the sob stories told to me in 17 years of managing Dungeness and so unfortunately we are little bit cynical of the innocent responses sometimes – not all – I am very good at telling the honest people from the crafty ones.
As you can guess we have hundreds of thousands of people visiting and I can’t be at Dungeness all the time, but we are getting an ever increasing problem of privacy, damage to the sheds, theft from the boats, sheds, graffiti etc. My main concern is protecting the National Nature Reserve and we also liaise daily with the armed police and they put all booked shoots/filming on their call sheets and so between us we are managing the situation more efficiently now.
For that reason the Estate now also charge £100 for students per day now and they are one of our main concerns as they are causing many of the problems, especially the groups which don’t go through the main channels.
The plan to toll the road (probably by next spring) will improve the situation for us and residents, but we will see how the planning process goes on this.
It is common sense – if you come down at dawn on Sunday morning to take some pics – not a problem. Come down with 4 friends, a model and some lighting etc – you cross our line of concern!
I hope you find this information useful and I'd like to thank Alison and Owen again for taking the time to clarify the situation.