WORK is about to begin on a £16.8m scheme to protect the coastline of a popular tourist area in West Sussex.
The scheme at West Sands beach in Selsey is being funded by Bunn Leisure – and is the first privately-funded project of its kind and size in the UK.
During storms in 2008 more than 300 caravans closest to the beach were destroyed when Environment Agency sea defences failed.
Since then Bunn Leisure, a privately-owned family business that owns four holiday villages in Selsey, has been in negotiation with the agency and other authorities to protect their land.
John Bunn, managing director, said: ‘This represents an unprecedented investment for us, but we reached the point where we knew we had to do the work and protect the land, or close.
‘I’m just delighted the works can now get under way and I can secure the future of my business. Around 2,000 families own holiday caravans at our four holiday villages and I felt that I had a responsibility to them.’
From April, more than 93,000 tonnes of granite rocks will be brought from Norway on a ship which will anchor just over half a mile off the coast. Two off-shore breakwaters will be built on the seabed. Once they are complete, the pebble and stone beach will be bolstered with 500,000 tonnes of sand and shingle making the beach larger.
The work is due to finish in the autumn. The holiday villages will remain open throughout.