West Wittering Parish Council

What is happening at East Head?

An update from East Head Coastal Issues Advisory Group - February 2021

The recent high tides and stormy weather has led to very visible changes around the Hinge south of East Head. This area has been closely monitored and managed since 2008 by the East Head Coastal Issue Advisory Group (Chichester District Council, Environment Agency, National Trust, West Wittering Estate, Natural England, Woodger Trust, Cakeham Manor Estate, Chichester Harbour Conservancy and West Wittering Parish Council). A policy of Adaptive Management has been agreed. This means that the sea defences are removed when they reach the end of their serviceable life having naturally failed, to allow a natural beach and more sustainable coastline to form, a process known as ‘roll back’.

Over the past 18 months, we have been pleased to see this theory in practice, as a shingle beach has now established around the Red Flag area (Groyne 22 shown in pic), in the future the beach is likely to move further landward. This beach is close to the height of the original man-made structures, thus providing an equivalent barrier, but one better able to protect the long-term integrity of East Head and more in keeping with the natural area.

Further east around the Groyne 21 and 20 area, there has also been considerable change with the sea defences failing over the past year. While these changes may appear to be more dramatic, it was anticipated by EHCIAG. Taking an Adaptive Management approach, EHCIAG aims to preserve the social, economic, environmental and amenity value of East Head. This includes maintaining pedestrian access to the spit and protecting the salt marsh of Snowhill Creek.

The group are currently working on a response to the recent changes and a ‘recycling’ activity is being considered to bolster the beach, through placing material behind the existing beach. Recycling is the term used to describe the movement of beach material from a local area close by, from an area where the shingle usually migrates to under natural conditions. The last recycling was carried out in February of 2016, when 3000 tonnes of shingle and sand was deposited to form a bund on the hinge area. This provided a backstop for the beach we see today around the red flag, to develop. 

In January this year, West Wittering Estate removed the dangerous, failed sea defences and will continue to monitor, and act to make sure the area remains safe. Please check the Parish Council website (http://www.westwitteringparishcouncil.gov.uk/east-head-costal-issues-advisory-group)  for further updates and background.