Coastal Management at West Witterings & East Head

I spoke to Gill Theobald, a resident only 100 metres away from the coastline at Witterings Beach for 37 years, about the current situation of coastal management and upkeep of the blue-flagged beach.

Access to West Witterings & East Head is severely limited to the public, unless you live within the vicinity of the roads and neighbourhoods that lead on to the beach itself. Private roads with a list of permitted visitors is just an example, to prevent people disrupting the peace and quiet of the people living there.

“One day people started complaining- and now we have this” Anne drives us through a guarded road, outlining how the situation has not been like this before, but we eventually make it to within 50 yards of the beach on a virtually empty road, with only horses permitted to ride through the paths in the fields surrounding it.

These Sand Dunes lie at the back of the beach ranging up to 20 feet high, one of the most constructed forms of beach management, with wooden posts marking the areas that pedestrians are not permitted to access.

“These posts were set up around 10 years ago, in an attempt to stop the sand from moving around the beach that meant the beach required constant replenishment. As you can see some areas of the fence posts are clearly reaching the highest point, proving how useful they can be”

“ The houses that are designed to offer “coastal views” as being directly along the edge of the beach, have had their views restricted by the development of tall trees, green verges and sand dunes in order to prioritize the upkeep of the WWCA.”

6 foot high signs that display key information of the beach, such as the map and lifeguard locations, have been buried since the sand dunes grew and have “sunk” with the sand, to show only the top foot of the sign.
At the bend of the beach, the tallest groyne (8 feet) restricts the movement of sand around the coast and the process of Longshore Drift, as you can see, there is a noticeable drop in height from the rocks at the back of the photo to the sand on either side at the end of the groyne.

The Red Flag means that swimming and activity in the water is not “recommended” or “overseen” by the lifeguards at WW. One of the reasons for this may be the high groynes that restrict mobility around the area and how close the shallow water here is ( only 200 feet) to private Hayling Island military land.

The Beach area was covered particularly with metal wire wrapped around kilograms of rocks that resembled “Gabions” that lined towards the back of the beach. They blend in well to the rocks on the path there and are probably cost-effective.

They are not piled on top of each other such as the Gabions that can be found on Raymond Brown’s Portsmouth coastal management project, rather lying side by side and only being 4 inches high and 2 feet long.

As is visible here, the high levels of sand has in some places risen over the beach huts, covering the wooden floors.
The Groyne that lies in the centre of the blue-flagged popular tourist spot on the beach has been hugely covered by sand over the decades.
These simplistic and cheap fences consisting of rubber stripes are common place near the area of the WWCA popular with tourists- and are there for future efforts to prevent the build up of sand towards the back of the beach.
5 to 8 foot high groyne barriers are placed every 50 yards in the eastwards direction, away from the populous tourist spot.

“As you can see, some of the barriers haven’t been filled up to the top yet, I don’t know why, perhaps they are not needed yet due to the low height of the sand, or maybe they have not put resources into doing this”

Rock barriers are once again very visible and instead of blocking off paths and areas of the WWCA, they easily blend in to the surface to form ledges and assist beach mobility, next to the top of groynes or at the top of the beach bath.

“Some of the barriers have been walked into or affected by the weather too much, which has obviously caused them to snap from the barrier itself.”

You can see faintly 4 separate ledges that have formed on the beach that can be called “sand slopes” that have been created as a result of the groynes being put in places.
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