During a series of severe storms in early January and February 2014 the Preston Beach Sea Defence Scheme took a pounding and lost so much of its shingle in front of the promenade that the sea wall was in danger of breaching or being overtopped by large waves.
Completed in 1996 to offer protection to the A353 and some 30 properties at Lodmoor and Overcombe, the scheme has a promenade and sea wall, fronted by imported shingle which acts as a buffer to wave energy. A number of severe flood warnings were issued in the New Year due to the loss of beach material during previous storms and the ability of waves to run up and over the sea wall. The road has been closed at these times to avoid risk to life from waves laden with shingle hitting vehicles.
The local Environment Agency operations teams were supported by staff from the Midlands Region during January to recover material between the storms which has been lost off the beach. This work has had to be repeated several times up until the extreme storm on 5 February. The beach was reduced to no crest and foundations in front of the promenade were exposed.
The Environment Agency mobilised a contractor to carry out emergency reinforcement of the beach crest using rocks from Portland placed under the shingle down the beach in front of the promenade to protect the foundations and the integrity of the scheme.
“The work involved burying limestone boulders up to six tonnes in weight within the beach over a length of 350 metres to ensure a permanent crest in front of the sea wall. Around 3,955 tonnes of rock was placed under the shingle to maintain the crest width during future storms,” said Neil Watson for the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency held a well-attended local meeting on 26 February to explain the emergency works and future commitments to monitoring and improvements.
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