Failing coastal defence to be removed following Storm Dennis

Tuesday, 18 February, 2020

Following a series of extreme storms which have battered the coast, Havant Borough Council has fenced off an area at West Beach, Hayling Island, and will be removing one of the damaged coastal defences.     In the interests of safety, engineers from the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership will carry out further inspections and will make plans to take out the structure.  

Removing this failing coastal defence is in line with long term policy for the coastline which is ‘natural evolution’. The beach is changing more quickly than was initially anticipated and this is because the area has been experiencing an increased frequency of powerful storms year on year.  

The sloping timber sea defence, which runs parallel to the shoreline, was cordoned off on Friday before the storm hit and following the high winds and rain over the weekend it has sustained significant damage with large holes right through it.  

This defence was constructed in the mid 70s and so it is now well beyond its serviceable life (which is approximately 25 years).  

The groynes in front of this structure are still working and are retaining existing beach levels so these will be maintained for as long as possible – although these too were put in place in the mid 70s so are also beyond their anticipated lifespan. 

The accessible parking bays at West Beach were closed following Storm Ciara and these will remain closed until further notice.  

And council officers will be reviewing the future of the beach huts which are on this stretch of the coast. 

The long-term plan for this area will be part of a new Flood and Erosion Risk Management Strategy which will be developed over the next two years and consultation will be a core part of this.  

This new strategy has just been awarded funding from the Environment Agency and will link to Havant Borough Council’s regeneration strategy.  

The council’s policy since 1997, which is based on land use and coastal processes, is not to replace timber structures and to remove them when they are considered unsafe. It is agreed that constructing new defences at the cost of millions of pounds is not appropriate in this location. Central government funding is only available if it protects coastlines where there is a threat to property or life. 

The beach at South Hayling fared much better in this weekend’s extreme conditions with Eastoke Beach protecting 1,700 properties from damage. There was some debris washed onto the front and contractors Norse South East are clearing any debris and shingle. A beach recycling operation will also take place to restore the beach after it was buffeted during the storms. 

Cllr Michael Wilson, Leader of Havant Borough Council, said: “I want to reassure our residents and visitors that we closely monitored the situation at Hayling Island over the weekend as Storm Dennis hit.  

“We took proactive action on Friday and cordoned off an area around one of the coastal defences. This was hammered by the storm and is now damaged and failing – so we will need to remove it.  

“We will be developing the long-term plan for this area of our coast and ensuring that it is line with our exciting regeneration strategy.” 


The history of West Beach can be found here