WORK on a £16.8m coastal protection scheme is about to begin on West Sands beach at Selsey – the first privately-funded project of its kind and size in the UK.
The project is being funded by Bunn Leisure; a privately owned family business, which owns four holiday villages in Selsey.
During the massive storms of 2008 more than 300 caravans closest to the beach were destroyed as Environment Agency (EA) sea defences failed.
Since then Bunn Leisure has been in negotiation with the EA and other authorities to protect its land.
“This represents an unprecedented investment for us, but we reached the point where we knew we had to do the work and protect the land, or close,” says John Bunn, managing director of Bunn Leisure.
“I’m just delighted that the works can now get underway and I can secure the future of my business.
“Around 2,000 families own holiday caravans at our four holiday villages and I felt that I had a responsibility to them.”
From April, more than 93,000 tonnes of granite rocks will be brought in five huge shipments from the Larvik Quarry in Norway on a ship which will anchor about 1km off the coast.
Two huge off-shore rock breakwaters, each with a two-acre footprint will be built on the seabed defending the land from the elements, creating nature havens for wildlife and protecting the coastline for decades to come.
Stretching 180 metres out to sea at either end of the holiday park, the breakwaters will be partially visible above the waterline but will in time blend seamlessly into the seascape.
Once the breakwaters are complete, the pebble and stone beach will be bolstered with 500,000 tonnes of sand and shingle making the beach larger and better for guests.
The last stage of the work will finish in the autumn. All four holiday villages and all the facilities will remain open throughout the works with day-to-day operations unaffected.