We complete biannual shingle transfers at Shoreham Port in spring and autumn. The aim of this vital coast protection work has a dual purpose; to protect the Port as a key local economic provider and to ensure that all the beaches between Lancing and Brighton are sustained to protect our communities from the risk of flooding. The process, needed to counter the natural movement of shingle under the action of longshore drift, is split evenly between spring and autumn campaigns, with care taken to minimise the impact of the operation on our local residents.
Shoreham Port has powers under the Harbour Act to undertake this shingle bypassing, and the operation is supported by the South Downs Shoreline Management Plan and by the two coastal defence strategies that define the needs for sea defence improvements between the River Arun and Brighton Marina.
Longshore drift is a natural movement of shingle, whereby strong waves move shingle from the west to east along the Sussex coastline due to the prevailing south-westerly winds. Since the earliest days of the Port’s entrance in its current location the shingle’s progress has been blocked by the west breakwater causing an annual build-up of approximately 15,000 cubic metres of shingle at the east end of Shoreham Beach. This prevents shingle naturally moving eastward, starving the beaches to the east as far as Brighton Marina.
Whilst the number of truck movements required to shift the shingle is considerable, it is technically the most feasible and cost-effective way of transporting these volumes and is not affected by the weather or tides as movement by barge would be. At least twice as much material would need to be transferred to make barge transport cost effective, but there simply isn’t the reserves of material or funds available to do this.
As shingle provides essential protection against the elements and absorbs the impact of strong waves, it is key that the beach is continuously managed and replenished at Southwick to keep the shoreline in place and local buildings and roads safe. Studies have shown that as a result of this shingle transfer, beach volumes along the Port have improved and stabilised.