Meeting the Challenge of Coastal Protection

Damage caused by increased storminess and sea level rise is now a real challenge faced by every port across the UK, including our own. Rest assured, our Port team are working tirelessly to ensure our land is protected now and for future generations; collaborating with specialists to introduce a scheme that will strengthen our seawalls and do much to minimise the impact of these changes to our coastline. 

Many stakeholders will be aware that we have already benefited from higher sea defences along both sides of the Western Arm of the Port, developed by the Environment Agency. Plans are now underway for the same standard of defences to be constructed going eastwards, along the 6 six mile length of the beach from our harbour entrance to Brighton Marina.

 Shoreham Beach Protecting our shores

Local residents who enjoy a stroll along Southwick beach may have noticed the latest phase of our essential coastal protection work is already taking place along part of the beach near Barrett Steel on Basin Road South.  We have taken immediate action on this weaker section of the beach which was increasingly at risk of being affected by strong storms this winter. The aim of this vital coastal protection work has a dual purpose, to protect the Port which is a key local economic provider and to ensure the beach is sustained for our stakeholders to enjoy.

Coastal Protection Image

The construction of coastal defences along this current stretch of beach involves driving steel sheet piles into place. These piles have come from Arcelor Mittal, whose importing facility is located on the Port, reducing our carbon footprint during the construction process. As well as installing the piles, our engineers are kept busy maintaining our 4km of coast protection already in place; ensuring the revetments and groynes are in good order and that the beach is maintained and topped up!

Collaboration and cooperation 

Last year, we worked in cooperation with Brighton & Hove City Council and Southern Water to move a record-breaking transfer of excess shingle, nearly 30,000 tones, back from Brighton Marina to Shoreham Port. This larger build-up is the result of bigger storms moving the shingle from our beaches more rapidly eastwards towards Brighton Marina’s harbour arm, at the same time blocking up one of Southern Water’s critical outfalls.

Looking to the future, we are implementing a new coastal protection scheme in conjunction with Brighton & Hove City Council, Adur District Council and the Environment Agency. The preliminary estimates of the scheme cost are 24.8 million, with contributions coming from all parties. The scheme sets out a plan for the coast defences between the Port and Brighton marina to be improved and maintained in an effective condition for the next 100 years; with a key purpose to protect people, property, the environment and the local economy, whilst improving public access to our coastline for those finer weather periods.

Maritime 2050

Maritime 2050, a national strategy developed by government and industry was launched in February 2019 to set out the opportunities and challenges faced by the maritime sector. It is clear from the strategy that the need for improved coastal protection is not a challenge unique to us, but rather one that all ports must address in the near future. The strategy warns of increased flooding from tidal surges, more frequent extreme weather events and coastal erosion. It states we should prepare for the uncertain effects of climate change by collaborating between industries and agencies like the Environment Agency, to plan and improve resilience of our ports. 

Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Shipping commented ‘’Maritime 2050 charts an ambitious course for the industry that outlines the coming opportunities. Collaboration across the sector will be necessary to achieve these aims, and industry has already demonstrated an admirable willingness to work with government. In taking action in critical areas like the environment, security and trade, the UK will be a standard bearer on the international stage.’’

Another important feature of the strategy is The Clean Maritime Plan, which builds on the governments Clean Air Strategy aiming to reduce pollution and CO2 across the sector with a 2025 target for zero-emissions. 

 All hands to deck 

Constructing coast defences are the responsibility of our experienced engineering team. Brian Rousell, Director of Engineering commented ‘’We have worked with our partners in Brighton & Hove and Adur & Worthing Councils for many years now, bringing joined up thinking to our coast protection strategies.  Many people greatly underestimate the power of the sea in storm conditions, but our teams are fully aware of its strength and how much work we have ahead of us to protect our assets."

Sheet Pile Construction Navigating the future 

Protecting our coastline is an ambitious undertaking which we will roll out gradually over the coming years; paying close attention to the most vulnerable areas in the first instance. Cooperation between sectors will be necessary in achieving as little disruption to our beaches as possible, and together with our partners we are determined to make the transition to improved coastal defences smooth and straight- forward for everyone involved. 

Navigating the Future

We would like to extend our thanks to those who have worked hard to put measures in place to protect our shores already, and to our valued stakeholders for bearing with us while these essential works take place. We look forward to keeping everyone up-to-date with the latest news as our coastal protection scheme develops and begins to adapt our Port to meet the challenges of the future.