On the 4th November 2013, one of the highest tides of the year occurred along the south coast, giving the Environment Agency and the local community a fantastic opportunity to celebrate an important date in a fifteen year project at Medmerry, near Selsey West Sussex. The project known as the Medmerry Managed Realignment Scheme, is providing 7km of new sea defences inland from the coast intended to significantly reduce the flood risk to 350 homes. Central to the scheme is a large nature reserve that has provided the opportunity to create more than 180 hectares of important new wildlife habitat which compensates for the loss of similar conservation areas in and around the Solent.
The beautiful weather and high tides created ideal conditions in which to show the new defences and nature reserve in action. Environment Agency Chairman, Lord Chris Smith, and Chief Executive, Paul Leinster were joined by Mike Clarke, RSPB Chief Executive, and invited guests to officially unveil a plaque to celebrate the scheme. The new defences at Medmerry have also contributed towards local infrastructure and the main road into Selsey.
Now the flood defences are complete work is ongoing to finish the 10km of new footpaths, cycleways and bridleways that cross the site. There is still more to be done to fully complete the project and the timing of the work is dependent on the weather, but public access will be allowed as soon as possible. Once the project is fully complete, the RSPB will manage the wildlife habitats and access with the Environment Agency continuing to manage the flood defences. The area is still not open to the public because works are not yet complete, but updates will be provided by the Environment Agency and RSPB when new information becomes available.