Council responds to Bracklesham and Witterings shingle move fears

High tide at East Wittering. Picture by Di Cutterham
High tide at East Wittering. Picture by Di Cutterham

CHICHESTER District Council has responded to resident’s fears over plans to move shingle from East Wittering and Bracklesham along the beach.

The council said the stretch from Bracklesham to Shore Road in East Wittering has excess shingle which protects the sea defences, but from Shore Road up to Jolliffe Road in West Wittering, the sea defences are at risk.

However, last Monday (November 4) saw the highest tides of the year, and the sea came crashing over the sea defences in the coastal villages.

Concerns flooded into the Observer over the risks of moving shingle along the coast, and readers asked if it weakened the sea defences which the sea breached last week.

The council responded to residents’ fears on Wednesday (November 13).

“We, like most coastal councils, choose to be active in coast protection,” said a council spokeswoman.

“We can use the powers set out in the Coast Protection Act 1949 to ‘protect the coast from erosion and encroachment by the sea’.

“This allows us to apply for grant funding towards the development of plans and strategies for the implementation of capital schemes for the protection of the coast.

“In this particular case, the shingle from Medmerry has been assessed and is not suitable for the task because it is too finely graded and contains a significant portion of clay.

“The coast protections works are paid for from a grant secured from central government and administered by the Environment Agency. Proposals are submitted and awarded depending on the risk to residential properties.”

Chichester District Council insisted the shingle move would not have any impact on the defences at East Wittering and Bracklesham and the work is planned to go ahead in January.

Concerns came in from several residents, including Anne Mead from East Bracklesham Drive called the shingle move a ‘retrograde step’.

“For more than 57 years, we have witnessed the changes brought about by the alterations made along the shoreline of East Bracklesham Drive,” she said

“From very few problems before the sea wall was constructed to then having waves crashing under the bullnose and being hurtled vertically to great heights over our rooftop and even over a three-storey block of flats next door. This caused flooding of homes, the caravan park and roads quite regularly.

“Once the shingle reached the top of the wall (ie above the bullnose) the problem, apart from when extreme weather occurred, no longer existed.

“We fear that if the shingle is removed to below the level of the bullnose, our home will be once again at risk.”

David Taylor from East Bracklesham Drive said: “I believe that reducing this shingle level by up to 1.5 metres will take us back to the old days where winter overtopping and flooding was a regular event during winter storms. This is very worrying.”