Recycling beach shingle reduces tidal flood risk

shingle SUS-140610-123257001
shingle SUS-140610-123257001

The Environment Agency will start shingle recycling at Seaford beach on Monday. The work will help ensure the sea defence’s continued protection for the future.

The project is vital – without it erosion and movement of shingle would leave the sea wall exposed.

The River Ouse to Seaford Head Coastal Defence Strategy estimates more than 700 residential and 350 commercial properties would eventually be left at an unacceptable risk of flooding in Seaford and east Newhaven.

David Robinson, Solent and South Downs Area Flood and Coastal Risk Operations Manager, said, “By carrying out the recycling work we are able to maintain the defences at Seaford in readiness for the spring tides and stormy winter weather.

“Shingle recycling at Seaford has been identified as the most cost-effective method for maintaining the beach for coastal protection and recreational purposes, whilst still allowing natural coastal processes to continue.

“We work with East Sussex County Council to ensure protection of wildlife, flora and fauna, and Seaford Town Council and local residents to enable the beach environment to be enjoyed all year round.”

The four kilometre shingle beach takes the energy and force out of the waves, protecting the old sea wall and minimising shingle and wave overtopping. Over time, natural coastal processes along the frontage move shingle away from the central section of the beach to the north west (West Beach) and south east (Splash Point) depending on prevailing wind and wave direction.

In autumn and spring each year, the Environment Agency moves around 60,000 cubic metres of shingle from the eastern and western ends back to the centre of the beach. The shingle is loaded into lorries by an excavator, which then transport the material to where it is needed. Bulldozers then position the material into the beach profile.

The beach is carefully monitored and regular surveys are conducted to provide information on shingle volumes and locations. Following the 2013/2014 winter storms, significant quantities of shingle have been transported to the north west of the beach.

This autumn (Phase 1) will see recycling starting slightly earlier than usual with work expected to take a minimum of four weeks. An Environment Agency bulldozer will be positioned on the frontage between October and March.