A number of beach huts on Hayling Island considered at severe risk of suffering storm damage have been moved urgently during the last few days.
Havant Borough Council identified 40 beach huts at West Beach, Hayling in jeopardy of being destroyed by the sea.
A new site was allocated following approval by Natural England and all beach hut owners were notified prior to the move.
Councillor Gary Hughes, Cabinet lead for Contracts and Commercial Services said, “The decision to relocate the huts to another location was not taken lightly. This needed to be completed in order to save them from being destroyed during the winter months by severe storms and high tides.
“Timber sea defences at West Beach were removed earlier this year prior to their collapse and a decision not to replace them was driven by the disproportionate cost which was estimated to be of the order £3m-£5m.”
“There is currently no funding mechanism available from central government to maintain or reconstruct any coastal defences at West Beach, as there are no residential properties at risk from coastal flooding or erosion at this location. Any new defences would come at a considerable cost and would have to be funded from local council budgets.”
Local ward councillor and Leader of Havant Borough Council, Councillor Michael Wilson added “We have received some positive comments from owners about what we are doing and the care that is being taken to move the huts.”
Each beach hut takes approximately two hours to move to ensure they transported safely.
Norse South East carried out the moving of the huts on behalf of Havant Borough Council.
The timber sea defences at West Beach were built by Havant Borough Council in 1976, in response to beach erosion. These structures have been regularly maintained since they were put in place and are now nearing the end of their functional life. In 2008 the Council took the decision to maintain the timber defences at West Beach until they became a significant health and safety risk, and then remove them. This decision is in line with North Solent Shoreline Management Plan which recommends a ‘Hold the Line’ policy along the South Hayling frontage but allowing the shoreline around the south west of Hayling Island to evolve naturally with minimal interference.
Following storm damage, the first sections of timber revetment were removed in 2012 and 2013, allowing the beach to evolve naturally. In March 2018 the timber groynes at West Beach were outflanked by the beach retreat and were removed prior to their collapse.
Further information regarding the history of West Beach can be found on the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership website.