£1.5million Selsey Beach scheme completed

A £1.5m scheme designed to protect homes along a one-kilometre stretch of Selsey’s West Beach from erosion was completed this week.

Work started in December last year, and the project is expected to extend the life of coastal defences in the area for more than 10 years.

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

Before the work 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 £1.3m of Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) national flood defence grant.

Last month, council officers worked with the agency to secure a further £200,000 of national funding, bringing the total up to £1.5m.

This enabled more shingle beach recharge to take place, giving further life to the seawall and making the whole scheme more sustainable.

Steve Carvell, the council’s director of environment, said: “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 per cent 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 had changed dramatically, following the importation of shingle to provide the new beach.

John Napper, vice chairman of West Beach Selsey Residents’ Group, said: “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.”

A public car park at the end of Hillfield Road was closed so it could be used as the compound for the construction works.

It will be reopened on Saturday, April 9.