The Environment Agency has announced that an ambitious project to construct 7km of new sea defences inland from the coast together with a wildlife haven at Medmerry in West Sussex is nearing completion.
Construction of this £28 million project is progressing well and the flood defences are now complete. Work is nearing completion to carefully allow the sea slowly into the site in order to form a new intertidal wetland area, which will provide exceptional habitat for birds and other wildlife. This vital phase of the project is an important milestone, but there is still around one month of work still needed to make the site ready for opening to the public in November.
The original shingle bank was difficult and costly to maintain each year, particularly during the autumn and winter months when tides are at their highest and the weather is more severe.
The new defences at Medmerry will be amongst the best along the south coast, significantly reducing flood risk to nearly 350 homes, local infrastructure and the main road into Selsey. The scheme has also provided the opportunity to create more than 180 hectares of important new wildlife habitat which compensates for the loss of similar conservation areas in and around the Solent.
The scheme, which covers the total area of more than 500 football pitches, will become an important local public amenity by the creation of 10km of new footpaths, cycleways and bridleways. Once the whole project is completed, the RSPB will manage the wildlife habitats and access and the Environment Agency will continue to manage the flood defences.
Andrew Gilham, Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk Manager, said: “It is very exciting reaching this important milestone but there is still more work to do. When fully complete in November and open to the public it will be a fantastic asset for the local community.
“We could not have got this far without the support of the local community, landowners and our partner organisations.”
Until the whole project is complete the site remains a closed construction site with strictly no public access. This is for safety of the public and the construction teams working on the project.
The scheme has been developed with the help of a wide range of community representatives. The Medmerry Stakeholder Advisory Group (MStAG), which the Environment Agency helped to establish in 2009, has been essential in engaging with the community and has ensured there has always been local input to the scheme design.
The Environment Agency’s work to create the Medmerry sea defence scheme unearthed nationally important archaeology that has changed our understanding of how people lived along the Sussex coast 3,000 years ago. As clay was extracted to build the 7km of new flood banks, it uncovered the remains of an extensive Bronze Age landscape dating to around 1,000BC.
Press Release, September 26, 2013