The last line of defence against the floods
- Mon 20th Aug 2012
Millions of pounds are being sunk in to the area in a bid to combat future floods, The News can reveal.
From Eastoke in Hayling Island all along the shoreline to Lee-on-the-Solent, funds are being unlocked to build new coastal defences.
While the threat of rising sea levels seems like a far away concern, experts are working against the clock to protect Portsmouth and the surrounding areas from coastal floods.
The Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership looks after the risk of coastal flooding for Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport.
Tucked away in a council office in Havant, which overlooks the Budds Farm wastewater treatment centre, a team of experts are now working to bring in cash to the area to help design new flood defences.
Their hard work has led to millions of pounds being pumped into the area, including £1m to design a flood defence strategy in Portsmouth and £3m to look after Eastoke in Hayling Island.
These designs could then end up seeing £80m being spent on Portsea Island alone for flood defences.
And the partnership between the four areas has earned high praise from the Environment Agency — which holds the purse strings for flood defence funds.
Senior coastal engineer Matt Hosey said: ‘I think we’re entering a big era for our area.
‘Funds are tight nationally but being an island and one of the areas at risk we are being held as quite a high priority nationally.
‘We have done very well bidding for money for various schemes partly because of the way we are structured and also because of the area.
‘It’s an island city which is something you won’t see anywhere else in the country.
‘We have had fantastic feedback from the Environment Agency and they hold the purse strings.
‘Every time we bid for money we get it.’
Before 2008, councils in the four areas looked after their own coastlines.
But Havant Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council decided to join forces to make the job easier.
A year later, Gosport Borough Council joined them and has now been followed by Fareham Borough Council to form the partnership.
The Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership now protects around 162km of coastline from Havant to Fareham.
More than 40,000 properties within that area have been identified as being at risk of flood or erosion in the next 100 years, when the sea level is expected to rise by 1m.
Members of the team are responsible for everything from drawing up bids for funding to researching flood risk plans and construction schemes.
And every once in a while it is their job to brave storms on Southsea seafront to close the flood barriers there.
Mr Hosey added: ‘Previously it was a very ad-hoc approach and it was decided we should do things in a more joined up way. We are one team working for all the areas and it works beautifully.
‘Everyone really enjoys what they do and we have very high-calibre people.
‘It’s an attractive place to come and work.’
When dealing with the flood threat, there are four options to protect the shoreline: hold the line; advance the line; managed redesign or no active intervention.
In most cases in our area, experts have decided the best option is a hold the line policy, where defences are maintained and installed around the coastline.
Managed realignment means artificially changing the shape of the shoreline, while advance the line means means reclaiming land and building defences much further out to sea.
Both options are tricky in the Portsmouth area where space is at a premium.
No active intervention means doing nothing and allowing nature to take its course, which in Portsea Island would see rising sea levels increasing the risk of flooding to the city’s homes.
But while the experts go up against the clock to put a plan into action, they are reminding people to do whatever they can to help themselves.
Homeowners are responsible for the protection of their own property. Raising electrical sockets at least 1.5m above ground level, laying ceramic tiles and fitting one-way valves are some of the many ways to deal with water potentially getting indoors.
To find out if your home is at risk of flooding, visit environment-agency.gov.uk.
For tips on how to protect your home or business from flooding, visit thefpa.org.uk.
Current status: £3m every five years to manage the beach at Eastoke.
Eastoke Point Coastal Defence Scheme is in planning stages and is estimated to lead to a £5m construction
Sometimes it is the simple methods which are the most effective.
So in Eastoke, on Hayling Island, trucks pick up tonnes of shingle from one part of the beach and dump them back at the other end to help combat the strong stormy waves there.
Over time, the shingle gets dragged back towards the point of the island, but a £3m grant lasting five years means the trucks can keep coming back.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership is developing the Eastoke Point Coastal Defence Scheme to find other ways to help.
These could be a new rock revetement buried at the top of the beach and new rock groynes.
Matt Hosey, from the partnership, said: ‘We have a strategy in place for Eastoke and we actually carry out beach maintenance already.
‘A shingle beach is a great defence. In 1985 it got a huge shingle replenishment to build the beach up and now dredgers and trucks are putting shingle back on the beach.’
Drainage flooding is an also issue in the Havant area, as proved by the woe faced by residents in Emsworth.
Drainage channels are thought to be responsible for a slew of floods in recent years.
We have to continue to hold back the rising sea
There is much to be said for living in and island, as citizens of Portsmouth know only too well. Down through the centuries, our unique location has given us and our forebears a special sense of unity and pride.
By forum user, Bruce_Bennett
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