Medmerry in West Sussex, is one of the stretches of coastline most at risk of flooding in southern England. After much consultation a ‘managed realignment scheme’, was proposed whereby new flood defences are built inland from the coast and an intertidal area is created between the defences and the sea. The project was ambitious in its aim to both reduce flood risk and protect the local environment. Now, however this ambitious project has become the UK’s largest manmade coastal habitat flood scheme and has won ‘The Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award’ and ‘Civil Engineering Project of the Year’ in the 2014 British Construction Industry Awards.
The only UK project to win two awards, the Medmerry flood defences will offer 1000 times better flood protection than the existing defences, and are designed to provide flood protection against rising sea levels over the next 100 years protects. As a result it offers protection to 348 properties, two holiday parks, a water treatment works and a main road serving over 5,000 households in Selby. In addition it has created 183 hectares of intertidal habitat which encourages visitors to the area.
The consultation involved planning to mitigate impact of building new flood infrastructure on protected species such water voles, great crested newts, reptiles and badgers. Farmers were involved in the consultation to design cropping plans to push birds from construction zones and pull towards safe zones. Furthermore, Natural England have been involved alongside local interest groups in ensuring that important historic, archaeological and geological features have been identified and protected at the site.