Sea Defence 2013

Update 24th December 2013

In view of recent weather, we have arranged to start works again from Friday 27th December.   Everywhere has suffered erosion, although most of it is not as bad as first feared – and certainly nowhere near the level had there been a spring tide.  There is however a 7.8m CD tide on Friday 3rd January, so our intention is to get some shingle replaced in the worst hit areas before then.  Initially I hope to have three bulldozers working over the weekend to Monday 30th when two trucks will start recycling.  Once we get past the first 2014 spring tides then we will increase the number of trucks to five – probably from Monday 6 January – and start to bring shingle back from Cooden towards Pevensey Bay.

Of course, if we get more storms over New Year, then it will be all change again!  As they say; “Watch this space!”  At least it looks as though we have some respite tomorrow and Thursday. 

With best wishes for a dry Christmas

Update 19th December 2013

Having just completed seven solid weeks of work, it seems the weather does not want to leave things quiet for any time at all.  Luckily we are just coming off a period of low spring tides and now moving towards the neap part of the cycle.  It is still my intention not to do any beach works next week, but obviously if circumstance demand, then machines will be mobilised as and when necessary.

However, with a much bigger spring tides due immediately in the New Year, it seems less likely that we will be able to leave all works until Monday 6 January, particularly as the biggest tide is expected on Friday 3rd.  Obviously at this stage it is too far away to know precisely what weather will accompany the highest tides, but it does seem as though we are to expect windy weather throughout the Christmas period.

As we have no desire to interrupt anyone’s holiday season, we would prefer to wait until Monday 6th, but cannot rule out that between Monday 30 and Friday 3 January some works will be necessary.  Let us hope for some seasonal frost and snow, which will indicate winds from the north – and a flat sea.

With best wishes for a peaceful and relaxing Christmas,

Update 7th November 2013

Last night passed more easily than I expected for three reasons:

  1. The wave direction moved west to 230°, whereas on Sunday it was from 200°.  That 30° helped a lot.
  2. The beach had already been flattened from 1:7 to 1:10 by earlier storms, so waves were breaking a little further from the beach and had a longer run-up, and most importantly,
  3. A large part of my analysis was based on where the sea came to on the 12:30 HW.  Its water level was similar to the 01:00 one, but forecast 1.5m offshore waves were expected to become 3.1m.  I later discovered that waves were measured at 2.7m at 12:30, so in fact were not much different from those overnight, which incidentally were recorded just over 3m
Although sea condition forecasting has improved a lot in recent years, it will still occasionally slip up.  However, it is the main tool we have trying to estimate what we face every tide, so use it as best we can.

As suggested yesterday, much of what we have done in the last 10 days has been undone by recent storms.  Essentailly we still need to recover as much beach from Cooden and the eastern end as we can and return it to Normans Bay, Beachlands and Sovereign Harbour so it can drift back east and sustain the defences all over again.  I estimate that this will take most of the rest of November, but we won’t be working all areas all the time.

Everywhere will be reinstated in due course but where risk is low it may be some time before work is complete – further storms permitting.  I will endeavour to provide information on when we move from area to area in the coming days and weeks

Update 6th November 2013

This time yesterday I was convinced that we had seen the worst of this series of spring tides.  However, overnight the timing of a brief spell of windy weather has been forecast to move back several hours so that 3m waves that would have come and gone before the 01:00 HW tomorrow now seem to going to coincide with HW.  Conditions are now expected to be on a par with those we saw overnight from Sunday into Monday this week.

The likelihood is that we will be back to square one by dawn tomorrow.  More machines are on the way we intend to get shingle delivered to Normans Bay and Beachlands today.  Bulldozers will be at 'White Horses' and Sovereign Harbour at some point but will be working this evening ahead of the high tide.

I now estimate that machines will be working at least until the end of the month, but most probably until early December.  At least the second November spring tide is very low, so the big tides starting around 3-4 December.  I am sure there will be still some machines here until we know what weather is expected for those tides as well.

Update 4th November 2013

Last night’s storm seems to have been much as predicted, resulting in erosion along the entire 9km frontage.  Although water levels are even higher now, the northerly wind has served to flatten the waves relatively quickly.  Repair works have already started but have been limited because of reduced access along the beach.  Trucks will be delivering beach to Normans Bay East this afternoon and most likely Beachlands tomorrow.  Initially all shingle will be sourced from Cooden and moved west into the most vulnerable areas so that minimum levels are achieved as quickly as possible.  Thereafter, we will add further material until beach profiles are restored to their pre-storm condition.

Eventually trucks will reach the western end of the bay, but in the meantime two additional bulldozers will be brought in to start repairs at 'White Horses' and Sovereign Harbour.  The next four tides are expected to see diminishing waves, although there is a chance they will be increasing again late on Wednesday.  Current predictions show a short lived 2m+ wave peak around 21:00, which is 4 hours before the 01:00 HW on Thursday 7 November.  All the signs are that the worst has passed (for now…) so we can try and reinstate the beach in the most efficient manner rather than jump about doing little bits here and there.  Of course if the situation changes, we will adjust plans accordingly.  However, with 5 trucks on the beach we are in the position to be able to respond quickly to any situation that may develop.

Update 2nd November 2013

High Water at 23:00 for tomorrow Sunday 3 November is not looking particularly good, and I estimate we could be in for about a 1:5 year storm.  With 3.2m offshore waves this will inevitably mean significant beach erosion and probably some overtopping.  This is my personal view of the data received so far and but I feel it is worth passing it on so those living right on the beach have the opportunity to remove or make safe any boats or other items that could be affected by the storm.

We have 5 dumptrucks on the beach so we will start to repair any erosion first thing Monday morning.  Obviously we won’t be able to work everywhere at once but will endeavour to restore defences as soon as we can.

It looks as though there will then be two days respite over the highest tides of the period, with the potential for bigger waves again overnight Wednesday/Thursday 6/7 November.  At this stage I wouldn’t read too much into that as being 4/5 days ahead there is plenty of time for things to change.

Update 24th October 2013

I think we can safely say that autumn has now arrived, and although today has been a pleasant interlude, Sunday and Monday could well be particularly nasty.

It seems hard to believe, but since 8 February we have only undertaken 5 days of recycling.  Unfortunately, that is all about to change, as we have delayed the first recycle of autumn longer than usual.  As things stand, we need to move around 16,000 m³ of beach before we are fully prepared for the worst of winter. 

We are presently on falling tides, but the next 7.7mCD tides coincide with Bonfire Night.  With this in mind we will start moving shingle from Cooden to Herbrand Walk, Normans Bay East and Beachlands from next Wednesday, subsequently moving beach from Normans Bay outfall and the Beachlands campsite to 'White Horses' and Sovereign Harbour. 

All in all machines are expected to be here for three weeks, although if the spring tides are accompanied by big waves we may have to postpone the current plans and concentrate on repairing erosion as and when it occurs.

After that, we hope to bypass shingle round Sovereign Harbour from Langney, but as this at least three weeks away there is plenty of time for things to change.

All in all it looks as though November will be a busy month, but I will keep you updated as things progress and in light of what weather we actually receive in the coming weeks.

Update 8th October 2013

As you are most likely aware, it is around this time of year that we do a first recycle in advance of autumnal gales. This year will be no exception, but I am conscious that with continuing fine and dry weather significant truck movements would be more obtrusive than usual because of the dust they would generate.  Of course if it stays fine and dry there is less urgency to undertake the work.  In general the beach is in good shape after the summer, but more vulnerable areas can always do with some additional reinforcement before some proper storms come along.

With this in mind it is probable that dump truck arrival will coincide with a period of spring tides.  Last weekend’s spring tides are now gone, so the next potential start date would be Monday 21 October.  If it remains dry and with winds from the north then it could be delayed until  the spring tide during the first week of November.

When we do start it is expected that works will cover the whole bay, with at some point shingle being moved west from Cooden/Herbrand Walk to Sovereign Harbour as well local movement at Cooden, Herbrand Walk, Normans Bay, Beachlands and 'White Horses'.  Following on from that, shingle does need to be bypassed round Sovereign Harbour from Langney beach.

So, several different facets of work are planned, but hopefully they can be timed to minimise disruption to residents, whilst still ensuring that a suitable sea defence is maintained.  I will provide more detail about where and when we will start once the weather patterns change.

In the meantime Darren is back with his bulldozer for the winter and he will continue to box shingle to Beachlands for a few more days before moving to 'White Horses' and Sovereign Harbour.

Update 30th September 2013

Autumn is fast approaching – if not here already – so the bulldozer returns to the beach for winter from today.  Although the beach is in reasonable condition, we do need to move some shingle around in readiness for the first proper gales of autumn.  Because the beach is still very dry and daytime temperatures relatively pleasant in any sun, we will delay the arrival of dumptrucks as long as we can so as to minimise any inconvenience to residents.

I am aware, however, that any machine use is intrusive so please be assured we do minimise it as much as we can.  Let us hope the coming six months are not too difficult.

Update 17th May 2013

A telephone call from Boskalis Westminster this week provided information that Sospan Dau was going to be unexpectedly available at very short notice, as a scheduled job in the Irish Sea was being withdrawn.  Since she is finishing off work at West Sands, Selsey, it makes sense for her to stay on the south coast for a couple of weeks.  We have therefore agreed that this summer’s beach recharge of Sovereign Harbour will commence on Tuesday morning, 19 May

Update 29th April 2013

The final machine left this morning and we have no more maintenance works planned until September or October.  Unusually, every month through the summer has at least one tide of 7.7mCD, which if coincident with a summer gale could mean some works are necessary.  Hopefully not.

I think we all agree we are due a warm and sunny summer.  I for one am looking forward to it!

Update 5th April 2013

Although March and early April has been completely different from the warm and dry period we had this time last year, there is one important aspect that remains the same – the Annual Public Forum!

This year it is next Thursday afternoon, 11 April, in St Wilfrids Hall, Pevensey Bay between 14:00 and 18:00.

Please come along to make sure those displaying information are not on their own.  Tea and biscuits will be available to help keep out the chill, although I am led to believe there is a chance temperatures could be in double figures by then.

Please feel free to circulate the attached flyer to anyone else who may be interested in attending


Update 13th February 2013

We have finally stopped recycling after four weeks continuous work.  Not to be outdone the weather had the final word and produced another south-easterly storm last Sunday night, which eroded the front of crest in many places, but particularly on the western half of the frontage.  Being from the south-east most of the shingle was drawn down the beach rather than washed to the east, so, for now, repairs will be carried out using bulldozers to push some of it back up the beach.  Although this spring does not have any 7.9 or 8.0mCD tides, we do have 7.5 or 7.6mCD tides every two weeks until mid-April, so doubtless there will be more erosion to contend with before summer arrives.

Given the current temperature – it has barely got above 2°C all day – spring and summer cannot come soon enough.

Update 1st February 2013

High waves this week have meant that recycling progress has not been as good as expected, primarily because the haul road between Cooden Beach and Herbrand Walk has been washed out overnight on two or three occasions, delaying works and restricting access at high water.  We will therefore need to continue the long haul to Sovereign Harbour for a couple more days next week, although it will be slightly revised.  Today trucks will deliver to Normans Bay East, so there will be little or no activity west of Normans Bay East.

On Monday and Tuesday shingle will be taken from Normans Bay outfall to the harbour.  After that we will revert to shorter trips using 2 or 3 trucks until all erosion has been repaired.

I apologise for any inconvenience this extra work may cause but it is necessary to ensure that all areas are adequately protected.

Update 25th January 2013

As suggested last week from Monday we will be running trucks from Cooden to Sovereign Harbour.  They will run in convoy, so as the round trip takes about an hour and 20 minutes there should be decent gaps between passes.  On the other hand it doesn’t look as though it will be exactly good beach weather, with wind and rain forecast from Tuesday onwards.  It seems as though windy weather arrives as each spring tide comes around, so no sooner are repairs completed when it seems we have to start again.

Update 16th January 2013

Even though the weather has been better (for south facing sea defences) it was something of a surprise to find that the brief interlude of south-easterly waves last Saturday produced more erosion.  Consequently recycling started at Sovereign Harbour on Monday rather than today.  In many places shingle is still on the lower reaches of the beach, where it was drawn down between Christmas and New Year.  With several more 7.7m and 7.8m tides to come before spring (hopefully) arrives there are several places where we will need to mechanically reinforce the beach.

One of the items we need to complete is a long haul from Cooden to Sovereign Harbour using 6 or 7 trucks in convoy.  At present it looks as though this will start on Monday 28 January and last for one week.  In the meantime two trucks will continue to move smaller amounts to Sovereign Harbour, 'White Horses', Beachlands, Normans Bay and Herbrand Walk and will move around to suit tides and weather as it changes.

Sospan Dau finally completed the 2012 recharge on Saturday and has now gone for a month or two.  She will be back in March to complete works for the Agency at Bulverhythe, then Eastbourne in the area around the pier, and dredge the entrance to Sovereign Harbour.


Update 8th January 2013

Now the weather has finally relented (for a while at least) we expect to see Sospan Dau delivering the balance of shingle needed for our 2012 recharge.  The forecast looks reasonable for the remainder of the week, so we expect deliveries every day up until Sunday, when she is expected to depart for Harwich.

I will be completing a beach survey on Monday & Tuesday next week so will be able to calculate how much shingle still needs to be moved back after last month’s storms.  As things stand I expect recycling to restart on Wednesday 16 January – probably at Sovereign Harbour – and then gradually move east, but I will keep you updated as works progress.


Kind regards


Ian Thomas
Project Manager
Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd
Environment Agency Depot
Coast Road
Pevensey Bay
East Sussex  BN24 6ND

Tel: 01323 761202
Fax: 01323 764368
Mob: 07884 234298

Updated: Saturday, October 4, 2014 8:59