Cheddar Complex Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)  Link to Cheddar Complex SSSI citation

The Geological Conservation Review (GCR) rates the Cheddar Complex SSSI as one of the best and most representative Earth Science sites in the UK.  More about SSSIs

  • Long-term conservation management of its limestone karst (soluble rock) and phreatic (groundwater) caves is important.
  • Its spectacular land forms record major prehistoric environmental change and floods at the end of the ice age 2 million years ago.
  • It supports a wide range of habitats, and rich variety of species, including nationally rare and scarce plants and animals.

The Geological Conservation Review (GCR) identifies those sites of national and international importance needed to show all the key scientific elements of the Earth heritage of Britain. Link   Cheddar Gorge has two GCR sites which are the basis for the SSSI designation.

Cheddar Gorge (Karst) GCR link 

Cheddar Gorge is the finest example of a limestone karst (soluble rock) gorge in the UK.  It is also Britain's largest gorge.  Description of GCR Karst  link .

Cheddar Caves (Caves) GCR link  

Cheddar Caves are important in the UK as examples of deep phreatic (ground water) caves with dated sediments.  GCR Caves link

  • More about Karst and Caves pdf 
  • Pictures of sinkhole and Cheddar Risings, link  
  • The skulls of Gough's Cave, understanding ancient humans (2011) link
  • More pictures of caves on Bristol Exploration Club website
  • British Geological Survey pictures and information: Cheddar Gorge
  • Pictures of the gorge cliffs at Applewood Photography (search 'gorge').

Statutory action

  • Legislation: Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006.  More about the legislation link
  • Statutory advice: Under NERC, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory advisor to the Government on UK and international nature conservation, which includes conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems. 
  • Statutory geological conservation: for the SSSI and its GCRs, according to JNCCs statutory role co-ordinating geology conservation.
  • Statutory enforcement: Natural England is responsible for enforcing laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment.  Link