East Head Update

Posted on 01 Oct 2007

East Head in Chichester Harbour is seen in this recent aerial photograph lying north south, with the Hinge at the bottom connecting it to West Wittering Beach. Records over the last three hundred years show that it has moved from west east through ninety degrees. The thorny question now is what happens next?

Following the answer to that, is the next question, what to do about existing outdated defences and what if any future defence work is sensible.

Latest studies may move this problem forward. A panel of experts has been working with the East Head Working Group (EHWG) studying how to satisfy the diverse interests involved in any future shore management plan. Members of the EHWG come from the Environment Agency, Natural England, The National Trust, Chichester District Council, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, West Wittering Estates and West Wittering Parish Council. The three panel of experts come from Portsmouth University and HR Wallingford. One of the latter is ex ABP Mer.

The expert panel’s initial report acknowledges the complexity of the question about which a great deal had been written over the last 30 years. Their assessment is that it is really unpredictable but more likely to move landwards and perhaps extend north but that the main tidal flow into the harbour would stay roughly along the present route.

The Panel made some initial assessment of what might be done to address several concerns on its effect on the navigation and amenities of the harbour but left the detail to the next report due out this autumn.

The Panel’s fees are being shared amongst interested parties and SPS has contributed £3000 towards Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s share. Public money is certain not to be available for any intervention work.

Martin Rhodes