We are currently finalising our plans to remove the damaged sea defences at West Beach. Please visit our West Beach maintenance page here to read more.
Overview of the situation
West Beach is situated on the south-west corner of Hayling Island between the Inn-on-the-Beach and the Hayling Golf Club. Structures here consist of a timber revetment and timber groynes which are reaching the end of their residual life. Behind the revetment are beach huts, a car park and a SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) site.
In the early part of the 21st century, the coastline at West Beach was much further seaward and Gunner Point was not the prominent feature that it is today. The construction of coastal defences and other structures have evolved the Hayling coastline to its current shape and position.
It is important to understand the history of these defences. The timber sea defences at West Beach were constructed in 1976 in response to beach erosion, which was attributed to the seaward extension of the defences at the Inn-on-the-Beach. This impacted upon the natural drift to West Beach. As set out below, these timber structures have been maintained regularly since they were put in place. As Hayling is exposed to large powerful waves, over time the structures have become worn by the action of the waves and are now nearing the end of their functional life.
Figure 1: West Beach Location Map
West Beach Defence Maintenance Work
Figure 2: West Beach Maintenance Works
Figure 2 identifies the years during which maintenance works were carried out on the groynes and sloping timber breastwork at West Beach. Within the last 42 years, during only 11 years were no maintenance works required on the structures. The red identifies the years when removal of a part of the timber structure was carried out.
Following storm damage, the western section of the revetment was removed in March 2012 and a further section in June 2013, with approval in principle to remove the remaining sections once the structure became unmaintainable (see figure 1). Since these operations, the previously adjoining groynes became outflanked and rapidly deteriorated. These groynes were submerged at high tide and held very little beach material. As a result, they were removed in March 2018 due to the unacceptable health and safety risk that they posed. For more information on the 2018 groyne removal works, click here.
Currently, the remaining revetment and its associated groynes (groynes 53 - 55) are functional despite their age. Their condition is being monitored and decisions on the future of the remaining timber structures will be taken when the condition changes.
Why has the timber been removed and not replaced?
The Havant Borough Council policy for the sea defences at West Beach is to remove life expired structures as they become a health and safety risk. The timber groynes in front of the beach huts at A-Site had become dilapidated and were a significant health and safety risk to the public and to navigation; therefore, the decision was taken to remove them.
In line with the policy, coastal defence structures at this location are not to be replaced at the current time.
What is the policy for this area?
The coastal policy varies along the south coast of Hayling Island; from a ‘Hold the Line’ policy at the east and central areas of the island, to an area of ‘natural evolution’ at West Beach and Gunner Point. This, and decisions taken by Havant Borough Council regarding this policy, determine whether the structures are maintained or removed when they become significantly damaged. The groynes at West Beach were primarily removed due to the considerable health and safety risk they posed from their condition at the time, however the decision not to replace them is driven by the policy for the site.
Can you predict what will happen once the defences are removed?
Predicting the response of the coast is both challenging and prone to uncertainty, particularly down drift of coastal structures and near complex harbour inlets. In 2017 the predicted beach response at West Beach under a ‘managed scenario’ was estimated to help inform future land use and development. This assumed annual beach recycling from Gunner Point, thereby creating a haul route in front of West Beach. These predictions were based on the actual retreat of the beach crest following removal of the first section of the timber revetment for the period 2012 to 2017. This was projected landward, after which the average rate of annual erosion was applied. Sea level rise was also added to this average rate, based on the well known Brunn rule, leading to a series of risk zone predictions over the next 100 years.
In reviewing the response of the beach since 2017, this approach was found to be less reliable. Therefore in 2020 the erosion risk zones were replaced with a series of Adaptation Zones which are presented in the following figure and will inform future land use planning at West Beach over the next 100 years.
Is there any monitoring at this location?
The ESCP carry out routine surveys and monitoring of the beaches at South Hayling, include the West Beach Car Park. Two different types of survey are carried out in front of the beach huts: profile data and baseline data. Profile data is collected twice a year (Spring and Autumn) and consists of data collected on set profile lines from the car park edge to the Mean Low Water Spring level. Baseline data is collected once a year, in the Spring, and involves the full beach being surveyed to collect levels. This allows us to build a ground model showing the full extent and levels of the beach and the beach crest position.
Our routine beach surveys show that erosion has occurred at a greater rate than we had expected in the 2017 predictions (figure below). However, the beach has remained more stable at the end near the Golf Course. The erosion scenario considered in 2017 was that we would build a haul route in front of West Beach to access material from Gunner Point as part of our annual beach recycling works at Eastoke. This was not possible in 2019 due to a lack of suitable material at Gunner Point, and therefore we would expect erosion to be greater in 2019 than that anticipated in the 2017 erosion scenario. Furthermore, there is emerging evidence from the SCOPAC Storm Analysis project that swell events may have been worse in frequency and severity since 2013/14, thereby causing increased erosion at sites such as West Beach. We will continue to monitor these trends.
Who is responsible for the car parks and beach hut maintenance?
The car park surfacing, and maintenance of beach huts, is the responsibility of Norse SE. The car park is periodically re-dressed and pot holes are removed.
The repositioning of the beach huts following stormy weather is also carried out by Norse SE. These works were most recently carried out during January and February 2018, following movement in the beach hut position during Storm Eleanor.
What is the long-term plan for West Beach?
The long-term management of the beach huts and future provision at this site is currently sitting with Norse SE and other council teams. The Local Plan sets out West Beach as a regeneration zone in a regeneration area, and therefore plans may develop in line with the Local Plan.
Should future development of West Beach be considered, the results of coastal monitoring at this site and the coastal risk zones will need to be taken in to account before any decisions are made.
Further information regarding the future of South Hayling can be found in the draft Local Plan.
Can the Environment Agency funding for Hayling Island be used for timber maintenance?
The £3.3million of Environment Agency funding which has been awarded to HBC for works on Hayling Island is for beach management only; this is the recycling and import of shingle. The shingle is placed on the beach at Eastoke to help reduce flood and erosion risk to the properties and residents here. The funding cannot be used for the maintenance of coastal structures. Funding for routine maintenance of coastal structures is sourced from HBC.