Damage to coastal footpaths around Chichester Harbour

As a result of heavy rains over winter and storm Pierrick in April 2024, four Chichester Harbour coastal paths have been damaged.

With consideration to ownership of the land, funding opportunities and environmental designations, repairs to the damaged footpaths are now being looked at.


Chi Harbour map Chi Harbour map

Why the defences have failed 

The sea defences at Thorney Island, Nutbourne, Chidham and Bosham have come to the end of their service lives. Growing climate-related pressures such as sea level rise and increased storminess have also had a considerable impact on the defences.


Within the harbour there are various ‘private defences’ which were built by, and continue to be owned and controlled by, the relevant landowners. Additionally, there are also ‘Environment Agency managed flood defences’.  

Landowners need to apply for assents or consents and works licenses to undertake repairs if the works could impact on environment or heritage designated sites. 

Coastal policy and funding

The coastal policy in these areas is ‘hold the line’. Currently, there is no public funding available for this policy in these areas.


Often as is the case with complex matters such as this, the solution is likely to involve a carefully selected mixture of interventions. 

In other areas, where there is no flood risk to properties, there can be a potential to ‘roll back’ the shoreline landward, This permits a managed failure of the sea defences and enables coastal environments such as saltmarsh to migrate landward rather than being affected by ‘coastal squeeze’.

In other places, where a tidal flood risk to properties and/or civil infrastructure exists, more formal flood risk management interventions such as seawalls may be suitable.

The appropriate approvals, consents, and work permits from the recognised regulating organisations would be required in both situations, in addition to adequate funding.