A £28m flood defence scheme which has been dubbed the ‘largest realignment’ of the open coast was celebrated at Medmerry.
The project, which works by surrendering land to the sea, includes 7km of new sea defences and a nature reserve set inland from the coast.
A plaque was unveiled to hundreds of guests by Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency today (November, 4) – to coincide with one of the highest tides of the year.
“The scheme has enormous benefits in terms of flood defence improvement, helping and protecting hundreds of homes and caravans,” said Lord Smith.
“With one in six people at risk of flooding in England, schemes such as Medmerry have a key role to play in protecting people and property.
“They also have an important role in the local economy by encouraging more visitors to the area. Creating large-scale habitat is vital to ensuring the survival of the country’s endangered species, improving water quality and reducing carbon.”
The scheme is set to protect 350 properties, two holiday parks and a water treatment works and also provides 180 hectares of coastal habitat for wading birds and protected species, including the water vole.
It will open to the public later this year, with the RSPB managing the wildlife habitat and the Environment Agency in charge of the flood defences.
RSPB chief executive Mike Clarke said: “This ambitious project is a fantastic example of how we can create habitat for threatened wildlife, benefit local communities and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.
“The UK is internationally important for coastal wildlife, particularly the millions of migrating birds that rely on saltmarsh and mudflats. Saltmarsh is disappearing as a result of sea level rise.”
For a full story see Thursday’s Observer