UK’s Largest Coastal Flood Scheme to Open in Sussex

Manmade coastal flood habitat set to double in next 12 months. The country’s largest ever coastal flood realignment scheme is completed today  in Medmerry, West Sussex.

The £28 million Medmerry scheme will protect 350 properties, two holiday parks and a water treatment works from coastal flooding, in addition to providing 180 hectares of habitat for wading birds such as the rare black-tailed godwit, and protected species such as the water vole. The scheme is due to open to the public later this year; the RSPB will manage the wildlife habitat and the Environment Agency will manage the flood defences.

Led by the Environment Agency, seven kilometres of new walls were built behind the old defences, which were breached, creating 180 hectares of coastal habitat – equivalent to more than 300 football pitches. The completion of the scheme will double the amount of manmade coastal flood habitat in the UK once the 400 hectare Steart Peninsula project opens in Somerset next year.

Environment Agency Chairman Lord Chris Smith said:

With one in six people at risk of flooding in England, schemes such as Medmerry have a key role to play in protecting people and property. They also have an important role in the local economy by encouraging more visitors to the area. Creating large-scale habitat is vital to ensuring the survival of the country’s endangered species, improving water quality and reducing carbon.

Environment Minister Dan Rogerson said:

This new scheme will support the local community – not only minimising their flood risk but boosting growth through the new habitat and tourism opportunities.

We want to protect people and help support growth in local economies through flood defence schemes. Together with partners we are spending over £2.3 billion to protect people from flooding and we are on course to better protect 165,000 homes by 2015.”

RSPB Chief Executive Mike Clarke said:

This ambitious project is a fantastic example of how we can create habitat for threatened wildlife, benefit local communities and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.

The UK is internationally important for coastal wildlife, particularly the millions of migrating birds that rely on saltmarsh and mudflats. Saltmarsh is disappearing as a result of sea level rise.

This project, which the Environment Agency has delivered, will become a thriving wildlife haven and a big draw for nature lovers. We should take confidence from the success here at Medmerry and help to secure our and nature’s future by investing in these sort of landscape scale projects.

Other examples of natural coastal flood schemes completed by the Environment Agency in the last few years include RSPB Frieston Shore on The Wash, Alkborough Flats in the Humber estuary and Plusterwine in the tidal Severn.

Press Release, November 4, 2013

 

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