Sussex beach recharge scheme protects Selsey residents

Posted: Tuesday 13th September 2011

A £1.5 million beach recharge and repair scheme designed to protect properties and extend the life of coastal defences has been completed at Selsey in West Sussex, in time for residents and visitors to enjoy safer use of the beach during summer - and all year round. The funding was 100% grant-in-aid from Defra, via the Environment Agency.

The project, carried out in partnership between Chichester District Council, engineering and environmental consultancy Royal Haskoning, and contractor Mackley Construction, began in December last year, and completed in March.

Royal Haskoning was the primary consultant, generating initial reporting to the Environment Agency and to DEFRA to help the Council put forward its business case. It then carried out detailed design of the beach recharge and repairs, contract documentation, project management and site supervision.

Chichester District Council’s Coast and Land Drainage Officer, Gavin Holder, said: “Coastal erosion is a real risk for people living along this part of the coastline and we 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 robust defence scheme that will protect the Selsey community for many years.”

Simon Howard, Project Director, Royal Haskoning, said: “Selsey beach had deteriorated over many years, but more recently the seawall had become increasingly vulnerable to failure. As beach levels fell, the sea wall became the only form of protection. Residents who lived in houses near the sea front had voiced concerns that their houses had begun to vibrate during heavy seas, and access to the beach was difficult at most states of the tide.”

“The main element of the scheme involved the transport of 45,000 tonnes of pre-graded beach recharge material to improve the shingle defences. Timber groynes along the one-kilometre frontage were refurbished and raised to retain the new volume of beach material and maintain the beach profile.”

Work began in December 2010 and completed at the end of March 2011 to ensure funding for the work remained in place.

“Winter is the worst time of the year to recharge a beach, however this frontage had already been worked on in recent years, and this was the final piece of capital works that would complete the upgrading of these vital sea defences.”

Usually beach recharge is carried out by a dredger discharging material ‘as-dredged’, directly onto the foreshore. However in this case the project team favoured using pre-graded ‘as-dredged’ material that had to be delivered by road via an aggregate processing plant. The graded material is better able to cope with winter conditions on an exposed frontage and less susceptible to early natural losses.

“We were aware that importing the beach material by road would put pressure on Selsey and other West Sussex communities along the transport route, but by working closely with the Council, the highways authority and local residents well beforehand, those affected could appreciate the reasons behind the decision. Traffic planning was handled sensitively and this important part of the project ran very smoothly.”

Selsey residents were very much in favour of the project, and keen to be involved.

“We ensured residents were kept informed of progress throughout the project and were alerted in advance of works that might affect them. The beach recharge is performing well and the consensus from residents is that they now feel much safer.

“This was an extremely successful project due to consistent community engagement, an excellent working relationship between Chichester District Council, Mackley Construction, and ourselves, together with good design and construction works, and the use of pre-graded beach recharge material.”

The construction works were completed on time and within the approved budget.

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