Danger on the beaches from rusty wartime sea defences

Metal from left over wartime sea defences is being washed up on the beaches
Metal from left over wartime sea defences is being washed up on the beaches

Rusty metal from wartime sea defences is causing concern on Arun beaches.

Residents fear children could be in danger this summer if more is not done to alert parents of the debris.

Heather Penfold with her father and brother, having a picnic on West Beach, Climping, around 1945-46

Heather Penfold with her father and brother, having a picnic on West Beach, Climping, around 1945-46

Heather Penfold from Littlehampton is part of a small group of volunteers who regularly do their bit to keep the beaches clean, from the harbour entrance at West Beach in Climping to Elmer.

She said: “Some very rusty and dangerous scaffolding parts are now being washed up regularly after storms. I have been collecting pieces, some up to 3ft long, including the bolts, for collection by Arun District Council as these are a danger for children and dogs playing on the beach. The rusty, jagged edges could injure very easily.

“I cannot believe that after the war, the powers that be didn’t clear the scaffolding properly and 70-odd years later we can now find many pieces of rusty metal.”

Heather saw the full extent of the sea defences herself and has a picture taken on West Beach around 1945-6, when she was having a picnic with her brother and father.

She added: “As a last resort for clearing the beach of rusty metal, notices are needed saying ‘danger to swimmers, children and dogs playing on the beach’ ready for this coming summer season.”

Volunteer beach cleaners meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 10.30am, gathering by the toilets behind West Beach Café.

Heather said: “It is a very rewarding few hours. I also collect weekly much other rubbish washed up, items such as plastic bottles and separate various tops, throw-away cigarette lighters and coloured rope from trawlers, which gets broken up into balls of fine material - dangerous for fish and birds.

“Not only is this rubbish caused by the public on the beach but people with boats, as I have also found toothbrushes and a loo brush.”

Arun District Council is currently investigating the metal and considering ways to resolve the situation.

A spokesman said: “Arun District Council can confirm that work to the coastal defences are planned to take place in May 2018 and will be undertaken by the Environment Agency.

“The council are investigating, with the EA, how best to resolve the situation of metal debris on the beach.

“In the meantime, as an example of communities and agencies working together, volunteers, are planning a litter pick along the shore and will collect any items they are able to, with Arun District Council providing the necessary equipment and the EA clearing items that cannot easily be picked by hand.”