What is happening at East Head?
An update from East Head Coastal Issues Advisory Group - February 2020
Visitors to East Head beyond the car park at West Wittering Beach will have noticed changes to the beach and sea defences caused by the failure of ageing defences and the combination of recent high spring tides and storms. These changes are being monitored very closely by the East Head Advisory Group (ECHIAG)
ECHIAG consists of members from Natural England, the Environment Agency, Chichester District Council, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, The National Trust, West Wittering Parish Council, The Woodger Trust, West Wittering Estates, and Cakeham Manor Estate. The group also includes independent coastal experts, with links to University of Portsmouth.
East Head is a sand and shingle spit which is a natural and mobile coastal feature. The management policy for this area is one of Adaptive Management under the North Solent Shoreline Management Plan.
The existing timber breastworks (wooden planks and posts parallel to the land) had reached the end of their lives. Rather than replace these solid structures the objective of the current Adaptive Management policy is to work with nature to create a more natural sloping beach which better absorbs the wave energy before it hits the land, whilst also retaining access to East Head.
Visitors should be reassured that the changes to date are in line with ECIHAG’s expectations and the beach continues to be regularly monitored. There are a series of agreed triggers to be able to manage Health and Safety risks and prevent the risk of a tidal breach.
Since 2005 ECHIAG has actioned, beach recycling of sand/pebbles on three occasions to create a bund north of the beach on the hinge. This work was undertaken in anticipation of timber breastworks reaching the end of their life and the subsequent reshaping of the beach. The group has also organised the removal of failed timber gabions and breastworks, undertaken beach management and completed regular and post storm beach surveys in order to monitor and react to the risk of any breach, and maintain safety to the public.
We ask that all visitors take care around the changing frontage and comply with fencing and signage.