• Cuckmere Estuary Project

Cuckmere Estuary Project

History of the Project

Aerial View of Cuckmere Haven

The Cuckmere Estuary is currently defended from river and tidal flooding by earth embankments along the course of the river, training walls at the mouth and maintenance of the shingle beach on the west side. The river defences south of the A259 and the training walls are reaching the end of their useful life, the west beach is becoming increasingly difficult to hold in place, and climate change is likely to increase pressure on the defences.

In 2001, English Nature (now Natural England), the Environment Agency and the National Trust formed the Cuckmere Estuary Partnership, with the South Downs Joint Committee joining in 2004 and East Sussex County Council joining in 2006. Members of the Partnership share a vision of restoring the area to a naturally functioning estuary which will be self sustaining, reducing the need for engineered solutions and increasing the flood storage capacity of the flood plain. The Partnership is therefore working to develop a plan to ensure the long-term future and continued recreational use of the estuary.

Redshank

The Cuckmere Estuary Partnership is made up of Natural England, the Environment Agency, the National Trust, the South Downs Joint Committee and East Sussex County Council. Each of these organisations will respond individually to the Environment Agency’s draft flood risk management strategy. The Partnership will also use the information in this strategy to help develop a long term management scheme that will consider wider issues including access, recreation, tourism, local businesses, wildlife and landscape. As flood risk management is just one aspect of their work, the Environment Agency will continue to work as part of the Partnership to find the best long-term solution for the estuary. We believe it is vital to the future of the estuary to be able to respond and adapt to climate change effects such as sea level rise. We want an estuary where we can all enjoy the beautiful landscape and where wildlife can thrive.

Floodbank erosion

Environment Agency Draft Flood Risk Management Strategy

The Environment Agency has produced a draft flood risk management (FRM) strategy for the estuary. This considers the economic, technical and environmental issues associated with a range of policy options. The use of public money allocated for FRM for renewing and maintaining the present defences must be economically justified on the basis of flood risk to people, property and infrastructure. The impact of climate change and rising sea levels also needs to be considered in the management of low-lying coastal areas. The strategy is out to public consultation for three months until 10th December and it is expected that the Environment Agency will publish their preferred strategy by the end of March 2008.

Each of these organisations will respond individually to the Environment Agency’s draft flood risk management strategy. The Partnership will also use the information in this strategy to help develop a long term management scheme that will consider wider issues including access, recreation, tourism, local businesses, wildlife and landscape. As flood risk management is just one aspect of their work, the Environment Agency will continue to work as part of the Partnership to find the best long-term solution for the estuary.

Environment Agency Flood Risk Management Consultation

For information on the current Cuckmere estuary draft flood risk management strategy consultation please visit the Cuckmere Estuary Partnership website.

Seven Sisters Country Park
lagoon