Footpath 108/56/2 is part of the coastal route that connects Langstone with Warblington. The footpath is part of the Wayfarers Walk and the Solent Way.
Whilst the footpath is open, part of the sea defences has collapsed, which has raised some local concerns. The collapsed section of the sea wall is not under any ownership and is currently covering mudland which belongs to the Conservancy. The rest of the sea wall section running southwards towards Langstone Mill is under private ownership. This stretch of the sea wall is showing signs of compromise in several places, as over time the groundwater has sought to find a route out into the Harbour.
Over the past 50 years, the Conservancy has successfully sought to balance the needs leisure, recreation and the conservation of nature. This relationship is inevitably becoming more challenging as we all must deal with the impacts of climate change, and specifically sea level rise. As much as we need to adapt our infrastructure to cope with future demands, as a society, we also need to adapt our thinking to new ways of living and working. Today, around two-thirds of the 53 miles of coastline around Chichester Harbour are hard sea defences, including rip-rap boulders, brickwork sea walls, timber piles, and concrete armour-loc. This urbanisation of the Harbour detracts from the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and manifestly damages foreshore habitats through coastal squeeze, brought on by hard sea defences. These prevent the dynamic estuary’s natural processes of moving inland over time.
The Conservancy understands the complex ecology of the Harbour and that it is a combination of factors, not just hard sea defences, that are having a detrimental impact. This is why the Conservancy founded the CHaPRoN partnership, so that holistic improvements, such as to address recreational disturbance and to improve water quality, and to seek new habitat creation opportunities, can be taken forward.
The Conservancy has been part of a Working Group since October 2022 looking at Langstone sea wall. Other members include Coastal Partners, Hampshire County Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England, all working to determine an appropriate and enduring solution.
Last week the Conservancy decided that due to complexity of the site at Langstone, the Working Group would benefit from a detailed assessment by an independent coastal management consultant. This requirement will go out to tender next week. Once complete the report will be published online, likely in the early autumn of 2023.