Sovereign Harbour property owners are covenanted to pay towards flood protection work on the local beaches as part of the annual Harbour Rentcharge.
The main reason Harbour residents pay a charge is that the harbour entrance now prevents the natural drift of shingle that would otherwise protect the north harbour beach, so shingle has to be transported to the beach in lorries or supplied by dredger (see the "Shingle Bypassing" panel). That extra work would not be necessary if the harbour didn’t exist.
The curent beach work is carried out by Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd (PCDL) on behalf of the Environment Agency under a Public Private Partnership (PPP/PFI) agreement. The agreement ends in 2025. SHRA has asked to be involved from an early stage when new arrangements are being considered.
The beaches are monitored and surveyed throughout the year, but most of the shingle work is carried out during the winter months.
These are the main activities carried out by PCDL. Links are to the PCDL web site.
● Recharge - Shingle lost from the frontage every year has to be replaced. This is done using sea-dredged aggregate brought ashore by dredger Sospan Dau. More information >
● Recycling - Drifting shingle that temporarily builds up in some places is moved back to areas of erosion in large dumptrucks. More information >
● Reprofiling - Shingle is drawn down the beach in storms. It is pushed back to ensure the beach crest width remains wide enough. More information >
● Groynes - The number of groynes is being considerably reduced. More information >
● Beach surveys - identify any weaknesses in the defences and quantify when works need to be implemented. More information >
The annual shingle transfer or 'bypassing' work involves scooping up large quantities of shingle from the South Harbour beaches and then transporting it by truck to the North Harbour beach.
Shingle builds up on the south side of Sovereign Harbour because the southern harbour arm and the dredged entrance channel prevent the natural drift of shingle onward to the North Harbour beaches. This shingle build-up needs to be transferred to replenish the shingle leaving the north harbour beach.
The bypassing is done in the winter and typically lasts a couple of weeks or so. Due to the narrowing of the beach frontage by the building of the White Point development on Site 1, for pedestrian safety the beach area is fenced off while the bypassing is being carried out.
The bypassing is essential to help in the replenishing of the shingle lost by tidal drift from the north beaches that protect the developments, also, without it, the seaward entrance to the harbour would become blocked by the build-up of shingle.