This is how coastal defences are being improved in Elmer

The dredger vessel needs spring tides to have enough water to reach the beach to 'rainbow' (spray) the shingle on to the beach
The dredger vessel needs spring tides to have enough water to reach the beach to 'rainbow' (spray) the shingle on to the beach

A scheme to improve coastal defences in Elmer and better protect 325 properties from flooding and erosion is underway.

The project by the Environment Agency, working in partnership with Arun District Council and Elmer Sands Limited, got started at the beginning of September.

Barges delivering rocks to improve the revetment defences. The rocks are offloaded during high tide

Barges delivering rocks to improve the revetment defences. The rocks are offloaded during high tide

The estimated cost of the project is £5m, with £3m more to be spent over the next 50 years.

Funds are being provided by the Government, Arun District Council and Elmer Sands Ltd.

Team Van Oord is undertaking the work, which is due be completed by March 2020.

The project will involve 12,500 cubic metres of shingle being recharged across the middle section of the defences.

Elmer Boat Club will also get a new boat ramp as part of the works.

A total of 20,000 tonnes of rock will be used to improve the existing rock revetment.

The Elmer project team is working with Glasgow University on ‘Greening the Grey’ measures for this rock revetment extension.

The scheme will be a Natural Environment Research Council case study and, once completed, it will be monitored to evaluate its success.

The rock armour revetment has been designed to create a suitable environment for wildlife.

A proportion of limestone rocks, which have properties that encourage biodiversity, will be interspersed within the granite rock revetment, positioned to help habitat creation, containing features such as rock pools and ledges.

Last year, a public exhibition on the Elmer coastal defence scheme was held to present the outline design and business case.

This was followed by public drop-ins in August 2019 to explain the detailed designs, timeframes and construction details.

Between the events residents’ comments were reviewed and adjustments made to the scheme design, an Environment Agency spokesman said.

During the construction period, the project team will keep local residents informed on key aspects.

The project requires tidal working, including some night and weekend tides.

Working at high-tide enables the rock and shingle transporters to get close enough to the beach to distribute the materials in the right places.

Working at low tide enables plant (excavators and dump trucks) to reach the material and distribute it. The rocks are delivered by barges and the shingle by dredger.

As the works progress, the rocks and shingle will unloaded and distributed around the beach meaning that some footpaths will be closed temporarily for safety reasons.

Noise and vibration monitoring will be completed to ensure that thresholds are not exceeded and those residents most likely to be affected will be updated each week on the planned works and tides.

For more information about the scheme, contact the West Sussex Partnership and Strategic Overview team at the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm), or email: floodrisksussex@environment-agency.gov.uk

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