What needs to be done?
To maintain the existing sea defenses against further erosion and outflanking for decades to come, two options have been considered.
Failure to maintain the existing defences will result in their piecemeal collapse, followed by erosion of the soil, slopewash and weathered chalk, with the eventual loss of this historic landscape
All around our shores there are stretches of coast where the sea is encroaching and land and homes are being lost. It is too easy to say that in certain situations nothing can be done to hold back the sea. For nearly 70 years the cliffs and cottages at Cuckmere Haven are a good example of how this can be done. The cliff on which the Coastguard Cottages were built in the 1830s was being seriously eroded at the end of WWII. To check this erosion the cottage owners used war reparation money to build the large retaining sea wall, still highly visible today.
Between 1947 until 2014 further work on the defences was undertaken on seven occasions, at considerable expense to the cottage owners. The severe storms of 2013/14 meant some emergency engineering work was necessary to protect the lower cottages and the historic cable hut from being taken by the sea.
This famous site across the river from the Seven Sisters has survived for 70 years thanks to the vigilance and prompt action of the cottage owners and preserved the views that we all enjoy. The time has come to make use of current knowledge and technology to ensure that this landscape remains safe for many more years to come.
Phases 1, 2 and 3
Phase one as pictured, will cost in the region of £200,000. This work will ensure the survival of this priceless location for many years to come.
Phase two below the lower two cottages will consist of constructing a low concrete defence strip at the foot of the existing large wall to stop further undermining from wave action.
Phase three below the top two cottages is to continue the low-level sheet piling along the toe of the concrete wall.
Option 1 - Phase 1
Option 1 The most effective way of dispersing the immense power of storm waves is with a substantial wall massive rocks - 4-5 tons each. There are two problems with this scheme . First, the rocks would most likely have to be sourced in Norway or France and shipped by barges to Cuckmere Haven and the expense would be enormous. Secondly, The coastline at Cuckmere Haven has been recently designated as a Marine Conservation Zone, which means there should be no unnatural disturbance to the beach and shore platform in the intertidal zone. The moving of thousands on tons of rock to the area by sea would cause environmental impact and be visually intrusive.
The second and less intrusive option would consist of a line of low level sheet piling driven into the chalk along the toe of the existing piling which is showing signs of disintegration. Concrete would be used to fill the gap between the old and new walls. Pilings would have minimal impact on the Marine Conservation Zone. It would follow a curving line to a point just north-east of the Cable Hut, where its top would be at ground level.. The pilings would be deep enough to stop the undermining action of the waves.