Short Term Solution for East Head

Heavy plant at work at East Head last month. Heavy plant at work at East Head last month.
Industry Database

Works were undertaken last month at East Head to protect the amenity it brings to the Chichester Harbour UK community and to keep the risk of flooding West Wittering village to a minimum.

The National Trust, as owners of East Head, together with Chichester District Council, English Nature, the Environment Agency, West Wittering Estate and the Harbour Conservancy acted in partnership to deploy earth moving equipment for an agreed short term sand and shingle recycling scheme.

Longer term solutions can now be developed for the continuing threat to East Head and potentially the harbour as a whole. The sea has already broken through the Hinge by overwashing a narrow strip connecting East Head to the shore. If this is allowed to continue a new tidal channel may form, exposing to wave action areas that are currently sheltered.

It is believed that a tidal breach would result in the movement of materials which could change sedimentation patterns in the harbour, reducing navigability, whilst East Head could completely disappear. The exposure of the Snowhill Creek flood defences to increased wave action could result in their failure and consequent flooding of West Wittering village centre.

The agreed short term solution involves strengthening the Hinge by recycling sand and shingle from the north of East Head and shortening the terminal groynes on West Wittering beach. Some 13,000m 3of sand and shingle was recycled back to its original location at the Hinge, sealing the eroded gap in the dunes to a depth of some 2m. This will ensure continued access to East Head at all states of the tide and will help maintain the status quo until a long term solution can be implemented. It will also help support the natural process which is seeking to realign the Hinge eastwards.

The £15,000 works were paid for by the Harbour Conservancy and Chichester District Council.

The National Trust is additionally funding a monitoring programme by Portsmouth University to assess the impact of the recycling works and the replacement of boardwalks and other measures to allow continuing public access to East Head.

MJ Information No: 20808

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