Letter of the day: It’s time to go Dutch when it comes to our sea defence structure?

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Walter Menteth’s vivid presentation of soft engineering designs to protect Southsea’s sea defences at the Grassroots Festival in Portsmouth cathedral on Saturday made clear that a tiered concrete wall on the lines of the one at Cleveley north of Blackpool would not be an adequate or sustainable design to defend Southsea seafront.

There should surely be no rush to sign design contracts for only one option. We need time to understand and respond to these ideas, and further public consultation before any final decisions are taken.

The hard engineering design also entail the loss of the beach - which is vital to us as residents and to visitors to the city - and, having seen what happened to the concrete sea defences in front of the Pyramids smashed again even after tons of rocks were piled into the breach - concrete may fail against the power of the sea.

When the beach moved inland and flooded the Rock Gardens, it is clear that to do nothing is not an option.

More than 100 people saw the proposals, and feedback from the meeting suggests that they supported the ingenious system of dykes as well the creation of new amenities and views - above all leaving the beach which locals and visitors enjoy as the first line of defence.

What is needed now is new thinking - about soft rather than hard engineering, and learning from other sea-girt countries facing rising sea levels.

The Dutch idea of mounding as a second defence behind the beach would also have the gain of covering new facilities: car parking, drainage, cafes and other ways to enjoy the seafront.

We would continue to enjoy views out to sea, instead of them being blocked by hard concrete. Having seen how the beach at Eastney is being colonised by plants, we might then enjoy salt-resistant species growing on the new sea protection.

The exhibition in Portsmouth cathedral, which is on display until July 21 gives local people a chance to consider the alternatives - between soft and hard engineering - between current ways of hard resistance to the power of waves, tide and storms to the older system of softer dykes which keeps Holland alive.

Celia Clark

Florence Road, Southsea