A large-scale £16m defence scheme designed to protect Selsey from the ravages of the sea was given the go-ahead by Chichester district councillors in a unanimous vote.
The ambitious Environment Agency (EA) project – the Medmerry managed realignment scheme – will also help create wildlife habitats being lost elsewhere in the Solent, the southern area development control committee was told.
The project aims to protect 348 properties from flooding over the next 100 years.
Cllr John Connor, district portfolio holder for the environment, said the scheme was a means to an end - the end being the defence of Selsey town and the villages and hamlets of the Manhood Peninsula’s southern hinterland against coastal erosion and flooding.
“These are urgently-needed defences–- the present defences are not sustainable in financial and coastal defence terms,” he declared.
“The present defences will fail, and the question is how soon. It could be at any time.”
The committee heard a shingle bank in the area needed significant maintenance and offered only a low standard of protection. The project affects land east of the Sussex Beach holiday village, Earnley, west of Bunn Leisure, Selsey, and south of Easton Lane, Sidlesham.
It will involve the construction of 6.7km of inland flood embankments, eight new drainage outfall structures, a diversion channel, access tracks, including a new coastal path, the removal of an existing outfall, and creation of inter-tidal habitat.
EA area flood and coastal risk manager John O’Flynn said: “I am delighted planning permission has been granted for the project.
“Consultation with local communities has been key throughout and it is thanks to their input and determination we now have the outline designs for the project approved.
“This scheme makes a significant contribution to the long-term economic wellbeing of Selsey, as well as providing long-term protection against flooding.”
Construction work is planned to start in autumn 2011, subject to government approval and funding.
The scheme will give better protection to the B2145 road, the area’s wastewater treatment works and electricity substations.
Future benefits of the project include public access improvements and the creation of new wildlife habitats.
Rock for the armoured ends of the embankment would be brought in by sea, and while much of the fill would be derived from the site, there was a need to bring in surfacing material and concrete by road.
As a result, there would be a ‘considerable number’ of lorry movements – around 2,300 lorry loads over two years.
A planning condition was proposed to limit the adverse impact on residents and the environment generally, in terms of control of working hours, noise and dust control.
It was anticipated West Sussex County Council would control the route of construction traffic.
Selsey representative Cllr Fred Robertson said: “This is the only game in town. This is how Selsey and Earnley are going to get their sea defences.”
Further information on the Medmerry managed realignment scheme is available on the EA’s website at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/medmerry