Milford-On-Sea, Westover Seawall Failure & Urgent Works Update from NFDC
BRIEFING NOTE UPDATE 4TH AUGUST 2020
This note is to provide an update on actions and developments that have taken place since the last resident meeting of 24th June 2020.
New Forest District Council (NFDC) has continued engagement with colleagues in the Environment Agency to further explore funding options for this project, building on previous discussions. This has also included reviews of the 1949 Coast Protection Act to determine powers that may be used to deliver a solution as well as communication with the local MP and the Secretary of State for Defra, enabling this issue to be raised through to Central Government.
We are pleased to now advise that following a significant amount of work by the coastal team that two bids for funding towards this project have been submitted to the Southern Regional Flood & Coastal Committee (SRFCC) on 24th July, referred to as local levy. These take the form of:
Bid One – seeking a contribution towards an urgent works interim phase to protect the White House and reduce risk of further failure of the seawall (further detail under the works heading), this is as identified in the Jacob’s report. This bid is seeking approval for £600,000, which will also be supplemented by a NFDC contribution of £150,000. The process for consideration of local levy bids is lengthy, with a need to go through a number of stages which will refine the application, the first of these took place on 4th August. The officer working group supported the bid and the need to undertake the works. This will now proceed to the next stage to be considered on 22nd September. The final outcome of this bid will not be known until the end of October.
Bid Two – seeking funding for scheme development of the main scheme / phase 2. This is for £250,000 spread across two financial years and allows for a further NFDC contribution of £50,000. A key outcome to this will be identifying funding streams (including local partnership funding) that will be required for the main works scheme. This will follow the same process as bid one and again was considered at the meeting on 4th August, with support from the officer working group.
Environment Agency – an allocation for 2020/21 in year grant aid of £800,000 towards urgent works has been earmarked by the EA. This though is not guaranteed at this point. There is the need to prepare for submission a business case that will need to go through the approval process. This does require significant work on undertaking economic assessments which are very complicated and will require the further appoint of a specialist consultant to assist with this work. The Council will be taking forward the development of this business case.
NFDC – the Council has recently approved a report seeking funding of £1.5m to take forward the delivery of an interim urgent works phase. This is to enable the development of the urgent works to progress now, rather than wait until the outcome of the bids outlined above is known. Effectively the Council has agreed to spend at risk in order to progress the urgent works that have been identified. This shows a significant commitment in what are currently challenging financial times as a result of covid.
NFDC recognises through the Jacob’s report that there is an imminent risk to properties in the coming winter. Through the Coast Protection Act the Council is able to use powers to put in place urgent works, it cannot though deliver a full scheme this year. This will take time to develop and will be done through bid two (outlined above).
Engagement with a contractor has commenced with a view to undertaking urgent works this year to protect the White House. Broadly this will take the form of a rock structure that will span sites 2 & 3 as shown below. The length is approximately 170m to 180m and will require around 8,500t of rock armour. It is expected that this will be delivered by barge to the site, full details are yet to be confirmed. The Council will now be working with the contractor to design and deliver these urgent works and to work up a solution, that will need to consider time, budget and site constraints. Particular challenges will be around accessing the site with land-based plant and working adjacent to an already failing wall, as well as working in a dynamic environment that is continuing to change. Provisionally it is expected that site works will commence early September, but this will be subject to securing a suitable barge and rock supply as well as completing procurement requirements.
ENGAGEMENT – NFDC is continuing to engage with representatives of the residential developments that are local to the site, through virtual meetings and email communications. This also extends to the Parish Council and local district councillors.