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Major coastal protection works completed in Selsey


A £1.5 million coast protection scheme at Selsey West Beach has been completed this week. Work started in December 2010 to protect homes along a one-kilometre stretch of West Beach. It is expected to extend the life of the coastal defences and protect homes in this area from erosion for over 10 years.

The works included:

  • strengthening works to weaker sections of the sea wall;
  • repair works to groynes; and,
  • a beach recharge, which involved importing shingle and placing it on the beach to increase its height and extent to replace shingle lost through natural coastal processes over many years.

Before the works started, beach levels were critically low, with the seawall being undermined in places. In 2007, this led to the collapse of a section of seawall, which put homes at immediate risk.

Following approval from the Environment Agency, Chichester District Council was awarded £1.3 million of Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) national flood defence grant. Last month, officers at Chichester District Council worked closely with the Environment Agency to secure a further £200,000 of national funding, bringing the total value of the works up to £1.5 million. This enabled more shingle beach recharge to take place, giving further life to the seawall and making the whole scheme more sustainable.

Steve Carvell, Director of Environment at Chichester District Council, says: "The way capital coast protection works are funded is changing. This year Defra has consulted on an alternative approach to the funding of such projects. This will make it much harder to achieve funding and will mean 100% national funding for projects like this is unlikely in the future. There will be a greater expectation for contributions from the local community instead. Our officers worked very hard to secure the funding for these vital coast protection works for Selsey. The partnership working between our officers, the Environment Agency, contractors and consultants has helped deliver a scheme that the Selsey community will considerably benefit from for many years."

The construction works were completed on time and within the approved budget. The appearance of West Beach has changed dramatically, following the importation of shingle to provide the new beach.

Residents adjacent to the sea wall are already noticing the positive effects. John Napper, Vice Chairman of West Beach Selsey Residents Group, says: "The beach recharge with new shingle has already had an immediate effect in reducing the energy of the waves at high tide, giving us an added sense of security, which we have not had for a substantial number of years. Previously, residents along this stretch experienced in their homes the vibrations from waves pounding the sea wall, but now this has stopped because the beach shingle is absorbing this energy. Since commencement of the works, the team's co-operation and concern to ensure minimum inconvenience to the residents most affected by the work has been very much appreciated."

During the works, the car park at the end of Hillfiled Road was closed so it could be used as the compound for the construction works. The car park, and the access to it, will be returned to its former state and opened again to the public on the weekend starting Saturday 9 April 2011.