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East Head Works

Friday, January 22, 2016

Press Release

For release Friday 22nd January

Further adaptive management works at East Head

In late January a further stage of coastal engineering works will begin on the area known as the Hinge at East Head, West Wittering.

A new sand and shingle ridge will be constructed along the back of the Hinge.  This ridge will reduce the impact of overwashing in this area during severe storm events.  Sand and shingle will be excavated from the northern tip of East Head, where it has built up below the high tide line, and transported down the beach to the construction site at the Hinge. This will be the third beach recycling scheme completed under the adaptive management policy at East Head, funded through Chichester Harbour Conservancy and supported by the FG Woodger Trust.

Adaptive management is the agreed policy under the local coastal defence strategy for the management of coastal defences from West Wittering beach to East Head. Approaches to management are carefully considered by the East Head Coastal Issues Advisory Group (EHCIAG) whose members are West Wittering Estate, Cakeham Manor Estate, Chichester District Council, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, National Trust, Environment Agency, Natural England, FG Woodger Trust and West Wittering Parish Council.  The aims of this approach are to preserve the social, economic, environmental, navigation and amenity value of the area.  The group also aims to ensure continued access along this dynamic spit.

Lisa Trownson, National Trust Ranger for East Head remarked “It’s great to have everyone around the table to be able to make these decisions in partnership.  We all have to make some compromise to move forward, by having the key people in the room, both locally and nationally, you can quickly get to the crux of the matter. It demonstrates a real commitment from all the partners and the strength of the group as a whole, that we can stand together to achieve this positive outcome for the site.”

The new ridge will allow for the safe and incremental removal of failed sections of timber breastworks, which are currently deteriorating at the Hinge.  The removal of these breastworks is intended to allow a naturally sloping beach to form at the hinge which in time should appear similar to the sloping beaches in front of the main car park at West Wittering.

James Crespi, Estate Manager at West Wittering Estate said “Removal of the breastworks is key for us to be able to continue to manage a safe beach. It will remove risk of swallow holes appearing on the path which can be unpredictable and a hazard to our visitors.”

Last year Chichester District Council removed the failed wire gabion baskets between the last two groynes at the Hinge.  Since then the shingle has formed a more natural sloping beach.  This not only absorbs wave energy more efficiently but has also created easier access to the beach for visitors.

Councillor Roger Barrow, Cabinet Member for Environment at Chichester District Council, says “a natural beach which is able to adapt will absorb wave energy better than a solid structure such as breastworks. This reduces the risk of a sudden, and potentially catastrophic, tidal breach forming.”  Chichester District Council is the Coast Protection Authority in this area and will remain the lead partner in the monitoring of beach levels, they will also continue to maintain the groynes to retain a natural beach on a flexible alignment.

Starting at the end of January, work at East Head will last up to two weeks.  Public access will be maintained, but in the interest of public safety, walkers may be directed on to an alternative route for a short distance.  West Wittering Estate and the National Trust both ask members of the public to be considerate of these works and assist our construction contractors by keeping dogs under control at this time.

For further information please contact West Wittering Estate PLC on 01243 51414301243 514143 or emailoffice@westwitteringbeach.co.uk

To view the Adaptive Management Action Plan please visit www.westwitteringparishcouncil.gov.uk

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

[1] East Head is a sand and shingle spit, a naturally mobile coastal feature. Previous management has sought to fix its position.  A consequence of this approach has been the erosion at the Hinge and neck of the spit.

[2] The East Head Coastal Issue Advisory Group (EHCIAG) is comprised of local interest groups and statutory authorities; it monitors and reacts to coastal change between West Wittering beach and East Head.  The group’s aims are to preserve the social, economic, environmental, navigation and amenity value of the East Head to the community.  The emphasis is not on trying to lock the feature in its present size, shape and location, nor to encourage the orientation in a pre-determined direction.

[3] EHCIAG recognises the potential of losing access and the potential for a tidal breach forming at the Hinge.  The adaptive management approach aims to reduce both risks and it is an objective of the group to maintain access along East Head.

[4] East Head is owned and managed by the National Trust. The Hinge and West Wittering Beach are owned and managed by West Wittering Estate.

[5] Breastworks are retaining walls found between groynes (or breakwaters).  There are timber breastworks running along much of the length of West Wittering beach to the Hinge.  Most are buried, but those at the Hinge are exposed and currently deteriorating.


Sent with this Press Release are two photographs.  Both should be credited:©National Trust Images/John Miller

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