The Role of the Environment Agency and Local Authorities [top]
Shingle banks form a natural sea defence but require replenishment
in the most vulnerable stretches of the Sussex coast in order to
maintain the bank crest height and width. These activities are largely
the responsibility of the Environment Agency but some sites come
under the auspices of local authorities. The Environment Agency
redistribute shingle at a number of sites such as Pagham Harbour,
Climping, Shoreham Beach and Seaford as well as at Rye Harbour to
reinforce vulnerable shingle banks which are liable to breach in
storm conditions. The Agency has a programme of ongoing routine
redistribution of shingle to counteract the natural process of longshore
drift, and in addition uses dredged shingle for replenishment after
storm events. Generally the Agency retains a clear working strip
where vegetated shingle occurs, with tape used as a visual barrier
to restrict access to the sensitive areas. The Environment Agency
flood defence team ensure that the direct works unit are briefed
before commencing any work on shingle that could have a detrimental
effect on the habitat. At times, in the interests of protecting
people and property, it may be necessary to move machinery over
areas of vegetated shingle.
8. Potential [top]
At Rye Harbour and Dungeness, agriculturally damaged areas could
quickly and easily be restored to vegetated shingle with significant
wildlife value, by ceasing annual cultivation, halting the application
of pesticide and fertiliser and reinstating grazing at a low intensity
in selected areas. The potential exists for reclaiming some of the
urban shingle which has been affected by the urban-related pressures
mentioned above, particularly along the strip from Shoreham Beach
to Bognor Regis/Pagham. There is also potential for recreating shingle
banks/vegetation in and around new developments (e.g. Shoreham Power
Station). Also natural shingle gardens with native local species
could be encouraged on the coastal strip. A limiting factor along
the coastal strip will always be sea level, as the fringing beaches
are mainly artificially defended to the landward side and cannot
retreat naturally as the shoreline retreats. New coastal defence
schemes which utilise dredged shingle could provide valuable habitat
idea of developing demonstration vegetated shingle areas with restricted
access should be explored with local authorities/business/parish
councils. These would fulfil an educational role as well as actually
expanding the vegetated shingle resource. Shingle education packs
could provide schools with a valuable opportunity to examine the
questions of colonisation and succession with reference to a natural
local habitat and also the problems of coastal erosion, defence
and sea level rise.
expanse of shingle at The Crumbles is currently under development
and a further area is subject to an existing planning consent for
development. Further liaison with developers may prove fruitful
in highlighting the importance of the shingle habitat which is being
built on and urging them to promote demonstration shingle habitats
in their show home gardens. A simple leaflet on shingle habitats
should be made available to all new homeowners in the area. A small
area of vegetated shingle between The Crumbles and Eastbourne has
however been protected by Eastbourne Borough Council as a wildlife
level rise may have a serendipitous beneficial effect upon the availability
of shingle habitat. In the long term, some coastal areas currently
not under threat, may in the future be at risk from marine
Where urban development prevents the natural landward roll-back
of existing shingle banks, it is likely that economic interests
will promote further shingle sea defences, thus extending the resource.
Liaison with the relevant agency is essential in order to maximise
potential for recreating stable shingle habitat. It is also important
that existing habitats are protected and researched in the short
term. The effect of extracting offshore shingle to create new habitat
should be modelled. Is shingle dredging increasing the effect of
storm damage and speeding up erosion?
9. Current Action [top]
of the shingle in Sussex is SSSI or SNCI, however 197 hectares at
Rye does not have any legal protection. Pagham Harbour, Pilsey Island,
West Beach at Climping, Widewater Lagoon and some of the Rye Harbour
shingle are within Local Nature Reserves and subject to bylaws which
can be used to help protect the shingle. At Shoreham Harbour the
Shoreham Beach Conservation Liaison Group has been set up to safeguard
the interests of local vegetated shingle which is soon to be designated
a Local Nature Reserve. Some shingle is included in Special Protection
Area (SPA) boundaries (e.g. at Pagham Harbour, Pilsey Island and
proposed at Rye Harbour) and therefore has further protection under
the UK Habitats Regulations 1994 where the shingle can be shown
to be the habitat of birds for which the SPA is notified. Rye Harbour
shingle is also included in the Dungeness candidate Special Area
of Conservation (cSAC). This site is being notified for its Coastal
shingle vegetation outside the reach of waves and Annual vegetation
of drift lines habitats listed in Annex 1 of the EC Habitats Directive;
thus the vegetated shingle is be specifically targeted for protection.
documents such as Shoreline Management Plans, Coastal Zone Management
Plans and Coastal Strategies affect shingle by feeding into the
planning process and informing the content of Development Plans
(including Minerals Local Plans). They provide a regional view when
assessing the requirements for sea defence and coast protection.
conservation management is carried on some shingle sites through
the implementation of LNR and other site plans. Bylaws of Local
Nature Reserves can be used to deal with damaging activities. The
Countryside Stewardship Scheme has helped to fund positive grazing
management for conservation on areas of shingle at Rye Harbour.
Documents called Site Management Statements which are produced for
landowners by English Nature are also used to guide management.
During Environment Agency and local authority works on shingle sea
defences, areas of vegetated shingle are largely protected from
damaging activities as described above in Section 7. Organisations
such as the Shoreham Beach Conservation Liaison Group are useful
in highlighting local interest and in addressing local problems.
Nature sent letters in March 1998 to many Pagham residents and landowners
adjacent to fringing shingle beaches highlighting the importance
of vegetated shingle. Also discussions on the fragility of the habitat
have already taken place between English Nature and Aldwick Parish
Council. The Environment Agency and local authorities liaise with
their engineers and also conservation bodies before undertaking
new major coastal protection works affecting
such as the Sussex Botanical Recording Society hold data on shingle
Sussex Nature Coast Project
confirmation of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the Nature Coast
Project was recently launched in West Sussex and will run until
the end of December 2005. It will work towards Habitat Action Plan
targets for vegetated shingle, saline lagoon, sand dune, estuary
and marine habitats (not all produced yet). Nature Coast is a partnership
project following on from the success of the West Sussex Vegetated
Shingle Project. The partners are English Nature, the Environment
Agency, West Sussex County Council, Chichester District Council,
SCOPAC, the South Downs Coastal Group and Sussex Wildlife Trust
who contribute financially and Arun District Council who provide
office accommodation for the project officer, Julie Hatcher.
of the West Sussex coast is heavily urbanised and 93% is defended
against the sea. Despite this, there is a surprising variety of
wildlife although it is under heavy pressure from human impact,
especially from surrounding developments and from coastal defence
work. Awareness raising is at the heart of what the project aims
to do; among local communities, school children and professional
groups. By raising awareness of our coastal and marine habitats,
the problems they face and how every individual can help protect
them for the future, the Project hopes to achieve positive action
for coastal wildlife in West Sussex.
Project has produced a short video to raise awareness of vegetated
shingle. It is ideal for use at presentations, training courses
and incorporated into displays. Copies are available from the Project
Officer. A conference for school children focusing on coastal squeeze
and the possibilities of managed coastal re-alignment will be held
later in the year.
Project is also planning to initiate a "Beach Carer's"
scheme where local people will adopt a stretch of coastline to survey
and monitor. Training and resources will be provided to enable them
to actively safeguard their local beach wildlife and contribute
to our environmental records.
Project Officer is available for guided walks and talks and has
resources and displays for coastal, marine and wildlife events.
Anyone interested in booking Julie for these or in joining the Beach
Carer's scheme can contact her on 01243 863141 or write to:
Nature Coast Project, Town Hall, Clarence Road, Bognor Regis, West
Sussex PO21 1LD.
The projects web site is: www.pebbledash.org.uk
Sussex Coastal Biodiversity
East Sussex Coastal Biodiversity Project is now in its second year.
A great deal of work has been done to raise public awareness of
coastal and marine habitats through presentations, events, articles
Specific outputs include:
§ Vegetated shingle cab cards for contractors working on shingle
beaches (in collaboration with the West Sussex Project);
§ Vegetated shingle video for interpretation (with West Sussex);
§ Shingle survey and seed collection associated with coastal
defence works at Norman's Bay, Pevensey, the aim being to restore
the vegetated shingle habitats;
§ Growing shingle plants leaflet produced with student from
University of Sussex - this aims to encourage people living on or
near the beach to encourage native shingle flora into their gardens
and to provide a source of local seed for future restoration work.
Cuckmere Estuary Restoration Project
is a partnership project, led by EA, with EN and NT being key partners.
The Coastal Biodiversity Project has been involved in this, primarily
from a biodiversity and PR point of view. The aims of the project
are to restore the Cuckmere Estuary south of the A259 back to a
naturally functioning estuary. A booklet entitled "Back to
Nature" outlines the project. Display boards have been set
up at Seven Sisters Country Park. Local interest groups have been
able to attend site visits and presentations. These explain the
project, the principles of managed realignment and generally raise
awareness of the importance of intertidal habitats and the threats
coastal areas are currently facing.
1 and 2 will recreate enough intertidal habitat to meet about a
third of the national Biodiversity Action Plan target.
Phase 1 (west side of the river) will revert primarily to mudflat
and should create approximately 46 hectares. In time much of this
will develop into saltmarsh.
Phase 2 (east side of the river) should revert primarily to saltmarsh
and create approximately 60 hectares.
is hoped that Phase 1 will begin around spring 2004. As this area
will be largely mudflat, habitat formation should be fairly rapid.
The timescale for Phase 2 is much less predictable, as the issues
are more complex. Work is not envisaged to begin before 2010. The
development of saltmarsh could take approximately 2 - 5 years.
of Sussex SEASEARCH continued last year, raising awareness of marine
habitats and encouraging divers to survey and protect the marine
environment. Five training events were held, plus 3 dive weekends
(equates to 22 half hours spent surveying underwater). As well as
regular SEASEARCHERs, last year saw 48 volunteers new to the project.
12 new marine SNCIs have been identified through the project.
Coastal Biodiversity Project, partnered with the University of Sussex,
has been successful in a bid to INTERREG III for the Beaches at
Risk Project. This will combine work on beach budgets and risk assessment
with the implication of rising sea levels and coastal erosion on
coastal biodiversity. Funding has been secured for the next two
years and includes money for interpretation material, surveys etc
plus a new member of staff. Rye Harbour has also been successful
in a bid to the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund and will be
employing a new Community Officer and Warden. The money will be
used to survey and raise awareness of the vegetated shingle habitats
within the Rye area.
East Sussex Coastal Biodiversity Project Officer is
Dr Kate Cole, 07786 171465
National Habitat Action Plan for Coastal Vegetated Shingle Structures
has been prepared with a proposed publication date of June 1999.
A national network for information exchange on shingle would be
on the ecology and geomorphology of coastal shingle (and associated
lagoons) have taken place covering recent advances in the fields
of coastal shingle ecology hydrology, geomorphology, sedimentology,
conservation and management - for example the European Union for
Coastal Conservation (EUCC) conference at Wye, Kent, in April 1999.
The Two Bays Project which is based at Rye Bay in England and the
Baie de Somme in France aims to develop a better knowledge of the
different ways of protecting and enhancing shingle and other habitats
in common. The Project, which commenced in 1998, is led by East
Sussex County Council and part-funded by European money through
INTERREG II. It has already produced two useful leaflets.
10. Existing Agri-environment Schemes
Countryside Stewardship is a MAFF grant scheme which is available
throughout Sussex (primarily outside the South Downs ESA). It offers
payments to farmers and other land managers to conserve and enhance
the landscape and its associated wildlife and cultural history and
to help people to enjoy the countryside. The scheme offers 10 year
management agreements with annual management payments and a wide
range of accompanying capital grants.
the four areas specifically targeted by the scheme in Sussex in
1999, two have the potential to encompass agreements of benefit
to vegetated shingle: the South Coast Plain (including Chichester
Harbour) and the High Weald. The key objectives for these target
areas, which are the criteria against which the likely success of
an application is measured, do not include any that are directly
related to vegetated shingle. However, where shingle is grazed,
where there are reedbeds, ponds and scrapes, or where wet grassland
on shingle is managed to encourage wading and wetland birds the
scheme would apply. In this way, the scheme is making a significant
contribution to the conservation of vegetated shingle in East Sussex,
with a large area at Rye Harbour under agreement. These objectives
would not be applicable to fringing shingle beaches particularly
along the West Sussex coast.
11. Objectives [top]
a. The National HAP objectives for Vegetated Shingle are to
further net loss of the existing vegetated shingle structures totalling
about 5800ha. (However local gains and losses due to storm events
occur sporadically and should be accepted provided that the national
and regional resources are maintained overall).
where possible further exploitation of or damage to existing vegetated
shingle sites through human activities and maintain the quality
of existing plant and invertebrate communities which are optimal
the restoration, where possible, of degraded or damaged habitats
of shingle structures, including landward transitions, where such
damage has been extensive and natural recovery is not likely to
be initiated by 2010. (Targets will depend on the results of research
The Sussex objectives reflect the National Objectives
Protect existing resource in Sussex in terms of both area and quality
Recreate vegetated shingle habitat where possible and appropriate
Make use of opportunities to restore previously damaged shingle.
Increase public awareness and understanding of the shingle habitat
for example by the creation of demonstration shingle habitat areas.
There should be no further net loss of shingle to development or
12. Targets and Costs [top]
remaining significant areas of vegetated shingle to be identified
for protection by 2002.
identified areas of vegetated shingle with SSSI or SNCI status
should be subject to a written management statement.
a guide to creating and managing shingle habitats for distribution
to developers/local authorities/parish councils/schools on the
coast/ retirement homes etc. Make this information available on
degraded sites suitable for restoration and undertake positive
and take action where possible against invasive alien species.
a substantial new area of bare shingle to be left undisturbed,
within 2 km of an existing site.
areas of shingle, e.g. at Rye Harbour, which are currently under
inappropriate management and bring under conservation management.
interpretation at the most important shingle sites.
with landowners adjoining or on shingle with a view to fostering
appreciation of the shingle habitat.
of leaflet development/printing/distribution £2,500
Positive Management Agreements ?
Employment of Shingle Project Officer
for up to 1 year part time 1OK approx incl costs
Production of interpretation boards 4 @ £1500 each
13. Action Plan
Surveys and Monitoring [top]
See Appendix 2 for a list of relevant surveys/documents.
EA maintained sea defences have been surveyed.
information for lower plants/lichens and invertebrates needs to
survey of vegetated shingle in Eastbourne- held at Eastbourne Borough
Harbour shingle survey results held at Pagham Harbour Local Nature
Harbour shingle survey results held at Rye Harbour Local Nature
Tide Mills survey in Newhaven Port Development: Further Ecological
Studies - Interim Draft Report. Posford Duvivier Environment August
Shingle Survey of the Sussex Coast. PR Williams and RJ Cooke 1993
English Nature Report, Wye.
15. Monitoring/Review [top]
This Habitat Action Plan will be monitored annually by English Nature,
Sussex and Surrey Team in conjunction with the Sussex Biodiversity
Partnership, with a full review being carried out at 5-yearly intervals.
Monitoring will involve checking up on the implementation by the
relevant Lead Agency of the Action Points identified in the Action
16. References [top]
Folkestone to Selsey Bill Natural Area Profile, 1998 English Nature.
P R and Cooke R J 1993, Vegetated Shingle Survey of the Sussex Coast.
24pp with maps. English Nature Report, Wye.
P., and Randall, R E (1993) Coastal vegetated shingle structures
of Great Britain:
report. Publ. JNCC.
P., and Randall, R E (1994) Coastal vegetated shingle structures
of Great Britain:
3. Shingle sites in England. Publ. JNCC.
Biodiversity Action Plan - A framework for the future of Kent s
wildlife. Produced by Kent County Council on behalf of the Kent
Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group, 1997.
Sussex Nature Coast Project: www.pebbledash.org.uk