Within the district there are two lengths of coastline either side of Eastbourne. These are the nationally recognised chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters to the west and the low lying Pevensey Bay to the east where the shingle beach protects the Pevensey Levels from flooding. The Council is both the Coast Protection Authority and also the leaseholder of the foreshore.
The chalk cliffs at Birling Gap are eroding at some 0.75 metres annually. The Council, after considerable investigation and discussion, has decided that it would be inappropriate to take action to reduce the erosion at Birling Gap.
Who is responsible for coast protection?
The Environment Agency (external link) is responsible for the provision and maintenance of the sea defences at Pevensey Bay beach and the Cuckmere Haven. The Environment Agency is also responsible for the prevention of inland flooding.
The Pevensey Bay defences have recently been strengthened and are managed by Pevensey Coastal Defence LTD (external link).
The Environment Agency is looking at the feasibility of allowing Cuckmere Haven to return to its natural state (salt flats) by adopting a policy of retreating the line.
Shoreline Management Plans
In order to ensure that adjoining coastal authorities work in co-ordination with each other Shoreline Management Plans are produced.
The Wealden coastline falls in two separate plan areas. Birling Gap to Cuckmere Haven falls within the Selsey Bill to Beachy Head Shoreline Management Plan and the Pevensey Bay section is to be found in the Beachy Head to South Foreland Shoreline Management Plan which are available through the South East Coastal Group (external link) (SECG).
Both shoreline management plans are currently under review.
The Council is however committed to maintaining access at Birling Gap, allowing safe public enjoyment of this attractive beach.
How clean are Wealden’s beaches?
The bathing water quality is measured at Pevensey Bay, Birling Gap and Cuckmere Haven throughout the summer season by the Environment Agency (external link). The results of these tests are published on public notice boards at Sea Road, Pevensey Bay and at Birling Gap.
The Council’s Code of Practice “Sea Sense and Beach Behaviour” is made available in both leaflet and poster format.
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