The Hurst Spit to Lymington frontage represents a diverse range of coastal structures, land uses, habitats and is loved by communities both locally and nationally. However, the impacts of climate change are causing increasing pressures on the coastline including increasing overwashing and breaching of the spit, overtopping of hard defence structures, coastal squeeze of intertidal habitats and saline intrusion to freshwater habitats.
The Hurst Spit to Lymington Strategic Outline Business Case (SOC) delivered by JBA is seeking to identify a long term strategic sustainable solution to manage the impacts of climate change and numerous competing interests. An ecosystem services assessment was carried out alongside the direct flood loss assessment to consider, quantify and monetise the wider socio-economic, environmental and amenity impacts of the proposals. We have predicted the extent of habitat creation within the options.
Managing the coastline
The SOC is exploring more natural ways of managing the coastline in light of the heavily managed existing defences. This is considering both hard engineered structures and more softer measures of management. Given the interest in the area, stakeholder engagement is a key component of the project. A Stakeholder Advisory Group (StAG) has been set up to help shape the direction of the project. This includes local authorities, legislative bodies, representatives of large and small businesses and representatives of the community. The StAG is able to feed into project objectives, vision and optioneering, helping to secure buy-in and ensure community feelings are well represented.
The study area is highly sensitive, illustrating a range of inter-tidal, saline and freshwater habitats designed under National (SSSIs), European (SPAs and SACs) and International (Ramsar) legislation. The impacts of any option to the European designated intertidal habitats in front and saline / freshwater habitats behind the existing defences is a fundamental factor in decision making. This is balanced by a realisation that we cannot continue to maintain defences in perpetuity with the available funding and drive for longer-term sustainability and carbon reduction. The project faces some very significant challenges to implementation of any scheme, which the project team are looking forward to trying to resolve.
Our experience from working on the Hurst Spit to Lymington SOC provides us with an in depth understanding of both technical and local issues. Our technical work in understanding the performance of Hurst Spit and influence on the local hydrodynamic regime provides us with a firm grounding into the dominant processes in the area and the issues associated with this stretch of coastline. The project includes a detailed study of the implications of the proposals on the Habitat Regulations and development of mitigation and/or compensation required to deliver the next stage of the business case successfully.