24 January 2014

Shoreham Port has weathered the recent storms and high tides with grit and determination over recent weeks. The highest surge tides for decades that were experienced by this section of the south coast in early December caused a few problems for some of the lower lying areas and the older parts of the electronic controls for the locks at Southwick.

The water level in the canal is generally maintained around 300mm (or one foot) above the highest tide of the day, but when the already high predicted tide on 5/6th December rose by a further 800mm there was nothing that could keep the sea back behind the lock gates.

In these circumstances the public walkway across to Southwick Beach has to be temporarily closed for everyone’s safety as the gates can move quite quickly of their own accord as the tide comes in.  We have taken the opportunity in the recent calmer weather to review our procedures and update some of the electronics to reduce the closure time and improve the robustness of the system.  However, there will always be times when we can do no more than watch the tide flow and ebb.

The combination of high tides and strong southerly winds has had a dramatic effect on the beaches along the Port’s frontage, with shingle levels lower now than in living memory for many of our long-serving employees. The two new timber groynes in front of Carat’s Cafe have saved the majority of the potential flooding to the building, but the car park has taken a battering and a small section of the prom was undermined, eventually collapsing early in the New Year.

The Engineering team are working hard to patch up the ageing coast protection structures and are relieved that an extra 18,000 tonne of beach material was brought in from Black Rock to bolster defences.  Work done over the past 18 months on redistributing the massive lumps of rock armour also stood strong, preventing breaches across Basin Road South and alongside the East Breakwater.

Tony Parker, Engineering Director said, “I am delighted with the performance of our recent works, but we urgently need to continue our programme of groyne replacement on Southwick Beach to maintain the defences and prevent significant damage to our arterial access road.”