From: B. E. Waters
Alison Cushing’s concern at the cost of recycling shingle on the foreshore is understandable but should be seen in context.
Just like one’s house or car, maintenance of major public infrastructure projects is essential.
In the early 1990s many groynes were but skeletal remains of the original, and beach levels were so low in places that the foundations of the Victorian sea wall were visible.
With the active encouragement of the funding ministry, an analysis was undertaken of the coast, including historical data back to the huge storms in the early 1700s, and the experience of the first sea wall construction which was built to support the promenade.
To maintain a beach in front of this wall it was found that groynes – which slow down the natural movement of the shingle – were necessary: they were started at Holywell, but by 1900 were needed all the way to Langney Point.
Of all the design options examined, on technical, economic and environmental grounds, a totally new beach was created between 1996 and 2000 with the importation of 1,000,000 tonnes of shingle delivered by dredgers, and a groyne field of much larger and stronger groynes – as well as work on the sea wall and other structures.
A scale model of a section of this was even tested in tanks at the Hydraulics Research Laboratory.
The cost of the project was some £31 million, three quarters of which was funded by central government, plus contributions from Southern Water and the Environment Agency.
In a management plan submitted at the end of the contract, it was envisaged a major recharge – that is , a seabourne operation – would be needed at the Holywell end in year 10.
It never took place, and recharge (now year 17!) is essential – and the truck operation is an attempt to meet the need.
Without this maintenance the £31 million expenditure would be pointless.