1. When did the damage to the Sea wall at Langstone occur?

The section of wall collapsed in March 2022, while the defects in the Mill Pond have existed since July 2021.

2. Who is responsible for the seawall?

Ultimately it is the owner of the seawall that is responsible for its upkeep. A search of the land registry for an owner of the seawall and footpath found the land has an un-registered owner.  This means that HBC are unable to trace the owner and those responsible for maintenance.

3. Who owns the footpath?

The owner cannot be traced from land registry records.

4. Who is responsible for the footpath?

The Highways Authority (Hampshire County Council) is responsible for the management of the Public's Rights to access and use of the Public Footpath. But, in accordance with the governing principles of Highway Law, it has no legal authority or responsibility to maintain the sea wall.

5. What is Havant Borough Council’s (HBC) position with the damaged sea wall at Langstone?

HBC have no legal responsibility for the damaged sea wall at Langstone. HBC are concerned about the loss of amenity and coastal footpath and have prepared short term works options to repair the wall. However, these works are considered to be detrimental to the SSSI and therefore would not receive Natural England’s Consent/Accent, or a Harbour Works Licence. HBC therefore continue to work with partners to ensure that the footpath and coastal access can be maintained for public use. 

6. What is CHC’s position with the damaged sea wall at Langstone?

CHC are concerned about the condition of the SSSI in Chichester Harbour which was recently downgraded to 'unfavourable declining' condition by Natural England due in part to the loss of 58% of the Harbour's saltmarsh since 1946. This is primarily driven by coastal squeeze with sea defences preventing saltmarsh moving landward in response to rising sea levels and limiting the sediment supply that enables them to keep pace with it.

CHC are keen to work with others to maintain the coastal access in the Langstone area and would look to source funds to re-route the footpath. Where the protection of houses, or important infrastructure is not directly involved it is better for the health of the Harbour environment to allow natural processes to resume.

7. What is Natural England's (NE) position with the damaged sea wall at Langstone?

NE published its review of the condition of the intertidal, subtidal and bird features of Chichester Harbour in 2021. One of the key findings from this review was that the site was in unfavourable declining condition due to ‘coastal squeeze’ and ‘inappropriate coastal management’. Where these defences are protecting homes and businesses from the risk of flooding, compensation for loss of saltmarsh is dealt with through the Habitat Compensation and Restoration Programme, but where they are protecting fields and other areas where there is no direct risk to property, there are also opportunities for allowing that roll-back to occur and to contribute to the recovery of saltmarsh and the environmental, social and economic benefits it provides. In this instance, and as is the case at Langstone, they would not give the necessary SSSI permission to repair the seawall.

8. What is the Environmental Agency’s (EA) position with the damaged sea wall at Langstone?

There are no homes at risk of flooding behind these defences and therefore no justification to use Flood Defence Grant in Aid to maintain or replace the sea wall. They want to help risk management authorities, communities and individuals understand and prepare for a long-term ambition for climate resilient places, a nation ready for and resilient to flooding, and coastal change. This mean in some cases nature-based solutions will be used to enhance flood and coastal resilience, which result in restoring multiple benefits including contributing to nature recover.

9. What actions are being taken to ensure the best future for the footpath and surrounding area?

HBC, CHC, and HCC are working together in a coordinated way to balance the competing expectations and constraints. This collaboration also includes expert advice from NE and the Environment Agency. The leading option that balances competing factors is to prepare the way to enable the footpath to be re-aligned (roll-back) as the coastline changes through natural processes. 

10. Why has the failed wall not been removed?

The owner of the wall is unknown so it is not possible to enforce the removal of the failed wall. Chichester Harbour Conservancy (CHC) would like to remove the failed wall section from their land and will ensure that the community are notified when the work is planned.

11. What happens if the entire length of the seawall fails?

We have support to prepare a contingency plan for this worst-case scenario. The contingency plan will consider protecting public health and safety and communications with the local community. There are no current means by which the wall could be re-instated should it fail in the future.

12. What environmental designations exist for the area?

The harbour is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar Site. The Mill Pond is on the edge of the SSSI, and is designated a Site of Important Nature Conservation (SINC).

13. What type of work or solutions would enable consents to be provided?

The advice received from NE is that consenting to any maintenance or repair works would be un-necessarily damaging on the Harbour designation and would not be permitted.

14. What is the risk of flooding behind this section of failing walls?

Flood risk mapping from river and the sea can be view on the government website: Flood Risk Maps for Rivers and Sea in England - December 2019 (arcgis.com) this predicts that without the defences the field and Mill Pond is at risk of tidal flooding. The depth and extent of flooding is dependant of the severity of the flooding event. 

15. What will happen to the public footpath in the short term?

HCC will continue to monitor the condition of the public footpath.

16. What will happen to the public footpath in the Long term?

HCC, as highway authority is leading on the development of options that allow to the footpath to be re-aligned with the changing coastline. 

17. Will the footpath be closed?

If there is an unexpected collapse in in the footpath that poses a danger to the public the County Council have the powers to temporarily close the footpath, until it can be made safe. This may necessitate further roll-back of the footpath as the coastline evolves. All parties are trying to avoid this situation and planning for managed roll-back without access restrictions.