The Environment Agency has built a major new sea defences inland between Selsey and Bracklesham in West Sussex. We have developed the Medmerry managed realignment scheme with the help of a wide range of community representatives.
The scheme will greatly improve the standard of flood protection for over 300 homes, the water treatment works and the main road into Selsey. It will also create important new intertidal wildlife habitat and open up new footpaths, cycleways and bridleways.
Work started in September 2011, and on Monday 4 November, 2013 - on one of the highest tides of the year along the south coast - Environment Agency Chairman, Lord Chris Smith, unveiled a plaque to celebrate the completion of the Medmerry flood defence.
Now the flood defences are complete, work is ongoing to finish the 10km of new footpaths, cycleways and bridleways that cross the site. There is still more to be done to fully complete the project and the timing of the work is dependent on the weather.
Public access will be allowed again as soon as possible.
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Flood risk: why the Medmerry scheme is needed
Medmerry is one of the stretches of coastline most at risk of flooding in southern England. Following extensive consultation, we recommended managed realignment as the preferred option, in our 2008 Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy.
Managed realignment means building new defences inland from the coast and allowing a new intertidal area to form seaward of the new defences. ('Intertidal' refers to the land that is exposed at low tide and covered by the sea at high tide.)
Because the existing Medmerry defences are at risk of breaching, we want to finish the scheme as soon as we can, in order to improve flood protection.
The Medmerry scheme also helps address the pressing need to create new intertidal habitat. This has enabled us to negotiate fair deals with landowners to buy much of the land that will be directly affected by the realignment scheme. We continue to work with the owners of the remaining land within the realignment area.
How the scheme was developed
We have involved local residents throughout the development of the Medmerry scheme. We worked with local residents and interest groups to establish the Medmerry Stakeholder Advisory Group (MStAG) in 2009. MStAG has actively contributed to the design of the scheme.
We submitted a planning application to Chichester District Council, who approved it in November 2010.
How Medmerry will look when the scheme is complete
Download pictures of how the area will look from the air:
When Medmerry is complete, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) will manage visitor access, farming and the new habitats, under a five-year management plan. The Environment Agency will continue to manage flood risk.
Designing and building the Medmerry scheme
Archaeology at Medmerry
We are digging the clay needed to build Medmerry’s new flood banks from large shallow pits within the site. This has presented a wonderful opportunity for archaeologists, and Archaeology South-East (University College London) has made some amazing finds:
If you need to speak to anyone about the scheme during construction, contact our Public Liaison Officer on 07917 048912.