Huge waves from Atlantic storms create gaps in Hayling Island beach defences

The damaged sea defences on Hayling Island
The damaged sea defences on Hayling Island
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MOTHER Nature showed her immense power as huge waves left a beach’s defences in tatters.

An unusually large Atlantic swell – caused by a storm thousands of miles away in the Atlantic Ocean – carved canyon-like sections from the shingle beach at Eastoke, Hayling Island.

Eastoke bore the brunt of the powerful waves as unlike Portsmouth and Gosport, it does not have the protection of the Isle of Wight.

Some surrounding roads in Eastoke suffered minor flooding and people had to clear up seaweed from their gardens.

But it was the strange new landscape on the beach, pictured below, that has been a talking-point.

Dee Parham, a volunteer with Hayling RNLI, from Wittering Road, said: ‘The waves dragged away the shingle and everything with it.

‘There are huge drops of six or seven feet and it goes all the way up to Sandy Point.

‘It’s very unusual.’

The shingle defences have been built up over the years by Havant Borough Council as part of a coastal protection scheme.

Engineers were pleased the shingle stood up to the powerful waves – preventing a major flood event like that in 2005.

Lyall Cairns, coastal defence partnership manager for Havant, Portsmouth and Gosport, said: ‘We have had Atlantic swell waves this week and they come up the English channel.

‘The good news is that because of the £2m-plus we have spent over the past three or four years, the beach is a lot more resilient than it would have been had we not done this work.

‘I like to think the beach has stood up extremely well under extreme conditions.’

He added: ‘It’s a dynamic beach. The waves push it around.

‘The shingle has not gone and is still there. It’s just distributed differently.’

And it won’t be difficult to find out where some of the pebbles have gone.

More than 500 pebbles on the beach have been electronically tagged so scientists can analyse how the waves affect the beach.

Mr Cairns added: ‘We are hoping to put a few thousand along Havant and Portsmouth to get an understanding of how these natural processes are working.’

The shingle beach will be replenished next month.