Southwick Beach will be fully open by end of May

Coast protection work on Southwick Beach
Coast protection work on Southwick Beach

THE second stage of work on a long-term coast protection project for Southwick Beach is due to be completed by the end of the month.

Shoreham Port’s engineering division is restoring the coast defences near Carats Café Bar, which have been hampered by the effects of the winter storms.

The projected started in May last year, when the team restored two timber groynes. They have since completed two-and-a-half shingle transfers and in the last few week’s restored a further two groynes.

Communications assistant Katie Orchin explained: “The engineering division conducts two shingle transfers each year, one in the spring and the second in the autumn, to assist with the littoral drift effect.

“In total, the team plans to move more than 27,000 tonnes of shingle from Shoreham to Southwick beaches during 2014. The shingle transfers go hand in hand with the restoration of the groynes.”

The works have meant a section of Southwick Beach has had to be closed but there is still access to the rest of the beach near Carats Café Bar.

Charles Sharpe, communications manager from Carats Café Bar, said: “We have people windsurfing and kitesurfing, walking dogs and the like, but obviously not in the sections of beach that have heavy plant actively doing work in them. The beach is accessible at all times.

“The sea defence works are indeed vital and the value of the completed section from last spring really cannot be understated.

“The new groynes essentially saved the beach chalets and the café from even greater damage than the recent winter storms caused. To that end, we’re wholly appreciative of Shoreham Port’s ongoing works and the lasting benefits that they will create for the foreshore at Southwick Beach.”

The groynes control the flow of shingle and the beach acts as a natural absorber of wave energy. Without sufficient coast protection, the explosive force of the waves would have a detrimental effect on coastal land.

Assistant port engineer Keith Wadey said: “Replacing the groynes is a continuing operation. The groynes are an integral part of sea defence construction and due to shingle movements eroding the timber on a daily basis, the groynes have an average life span of just 20 years.

“With the number of groynes we have down at Shoreham Port, this means continual maintenance is required, to ensure the beach is kept in good condition and able to continue to protect the adjoining roads and buildings.”

Shoreham Port has been working with construction company Mackley on the restoration of the groynes.

Site manager Mike O’Reilly said: “After a struggle at the beginning of the year, losing a large amount of the beach during the storms, I am pleased to report that we are now on track to complete the works on the two new groynes by the end of May.

“The facing works are complete and the groyne framing is in place, so the focus over the next few weeks will be the completion of the timber works and staircases. We look forward to returning the beach to the local community to enjoy over the coming summer months.”

The groynes are constructed from GreenHeart, a dense timber that is particularly resilient in stormy conditions. It is also used on the port’s lock gates.