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Much of Romney Marsh is below the present day high tide level and 14,500 homes, 700 businesses and nationally important critical infrastructure are at risk of flooding. Climate change and rising sea levels mean the number of people affected by flooding and erosion will increase significantly in the coming years if no new defences are constructed.
In the Folkestone to Cliff End Strategy (FoCES), the Environment Agency set out plans to manage flood and erosion risks along the coastline of Romney Marsh over the next 100 years, taking the predicted impacts of climate change into account. Some of the existing defences are reaching the end of their design life, leaving areas at an increased risk of flooding. The strategy identified how the existing defences can be improved to reduce flood risk to Romney Marsh to a 0.5% chance in any year for a 100-year period. The Environment Agency carried out extensive consultation with partners and communities to ensure that the strategy was socially and environmentally acceptable, and technically and economically feasible.
The strategy identified the following schemes:
- Pett Level coastal defence scheme. Completed in 2007 with annual shingle recycling for maintenance.
- Rother Tidal Walls West. Completed in 2006.
- Rother Tidal Walls East. Business case being developed.
- Broomhill Sands coastal defences. Currently under construction. Completion expected by winter 2015.
- Lydd Ranges. Business case being developed.
- Romney Sands (Greatstone). Business case being developed.
- Littlestone to St Mary’s Bay. Rock groyne at Greatstone completed 2014, shingle recharge planned for 2015.
- Dymchurch. Completed 2011.
- Hythe Ranges. Business case being developed.
To ensure the entire marsh is protected from tidal flooding, four further schemes need to be constructed at a likely cost of around £100 million. The Environment Agency is now developing business cases to determine the most effective way to construct these new defences.
Over the next 3 financial years the Environment Agency will be preparing business cases for four remaining coastal flood defence schemes to reduce flood risk to Romney Marsh. You can find out more about the individual schemes by visiting the scheme pages:
In order to gain funding to construct the schemes the Environment Agency must demonstrate the reduction in flood risk that they will provide, how the defences could be constructed and how public money can be best used. This is set out in the business cases.
Within the business cases, the Environment Agency will also investigate:
- the environmental impact of the new schemes and how it could be mitigated.
- the construction materials and where these can be sourced.
- how the amenity, environment and aesthetics of the existing coastal defences can be improved.
Due to the complexity and scale of the projects, this work will take approximately 3 years. Once these are complete, the design and construction phase will start, and the Environment Agency will seek planning permission for the Lydd Ranges and Rother Tidal Walls East schemes.
Currently, the indicative funding programme shows construction planned for between 2018 and 2022 for all the remaining projects. However, future funding is allocated each year and projects are prioritised nationally based on the reduction in flood risk they provide, and how much external funding they have sourced.
To help ensure the schemes are constructed, the Environment Agency is working with a variety of organisations to source potential external funding. Many of these negotiations rely on more detailed information which will be produced through the business cases.
These defences will be a part of the local environment, so it is important that local people and groups are involved in their development. There are aspects such as construction materials, amenity use and visual appearance that local communities may be able to help shape. The Environment Agency is setting up a Community Engagement Group for each of the four remaining projects where local representatives will work with the project team to help the flood risk solution fit with the local community. Over the coming months the Environment Agency will be running 4 drop-in sessions to present the proposals for each of the schemes. You can find out more about the individual schemes, drop in sessions and community groups by visiting the scheme pages:
For more information, please contact Tom Dauben at the Environment Agency on 03708 506506 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow the progress of the schemes on Twitter (@EnvAgencySE).