In Medmerry, West Sussex, on the southern coast of England, a project costing 28 million pounds sterling to help combat the ever increasing risk of flooding is being implemented. The Medmerry “managed realignment” project to give it its formal name is the largest project of its type ever undertaken within the United Kingdom.
The Medmerry Defence Scheme will provide the largest re-alignment of the British coastline in modern history.
For centuries on the Manhood Peninsula, inhabitants have relied upon a large manmade shingle wall to hold back the constant onslaught of the sea. Due to the increase in flooding caused by global warming and the high annual cost of 300,000 pounds sterling to maintain the wall the Environment Agency has decided the best course of action is to let the sea reclaim the land.
It’s a change of approach inspired by the high costs reaped by the floods of recent years and for the EU requirement to compensate for loss of wildlife habitat.
Below is a BBC report about the new flood defence scheme:
In 2008 there was a flood that caused £5 million of damage to businesses in the surrounding area and cut off the only road link in the area. So by working with nature instead of against it the hope is that the chances of flooding can be reduced to as little as once in a thousand years.
A new sea wall has been constructed further inland to absorb the reduced wave energy and help prevent homes and businesses. Dissipating the sea by allowing it to come in land also helps to protect the nearby coastal cities of Southampton and Portsmouth.
The other benefit is the creation of 183 hectares of salt water marshland that will become a nature reserve likely to attract a lot of visitors to the area who are interested in wildlife and bird watching. This development has the potential to boost the local economy, ecosystem and help prevent devastating floods, proving that adapting to nature can often be the best choice available.
Below is a video about the involvement of the local community in the planning of the defence scheme, produced by the UK’s Environment Agency.