Long Groyne work to start in April

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council will start work to repair and upgrade the Hengistbury Head Long Groyne in April. On-site preparations have already started.

The Long Groyne plays a critical role in reducing coastal flooding and erosion, protecting thousands of homes and infrastructure within Poole and Christchurch Bays, as well as stabilising the frontage preventing the two merging into one bay.

The works are licensed to take place from April to October 2024, delivered by contractors VBA Joint Venture Ltd.

The construction window is different to that of timber groyne renewals which take place during the winter across Bournemouth. This is because Hengistbury Head has special status as a protected area because of its natural and cultural importance – one of those being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The site is also a Scheduled Monument, which means it’s regarded as an important nationally protected archaeological site and designated to be of international significance.

This latest Long Groyne enhancement comes with important benefits to the natural environment, providing new habitats for a range of species, including the UK’s rarest amphibian, the Natterjack Toad, which will benefit from the creation of specialised ponds within the wider Hengistbury Head nature reserve.

Natural quarry stone from France and Norway, carefully chosen for its density and durability, will be used to reconstruct the Long Groyne, with each piece weighing between six and 10 tonnes.

The rock will be shipped to the bay and delivered onto the beach using a smaller barge. The beach will remain open during the works.

The upgraded Long Groyne will remain at its current length of approximately 150 metres from the beach line, but it will be made wider and 1.5 metres higher.

Following completion of the upgrade in October 2024, a further two short groynes, located near Solent Beach car park, will also be adapted, anticipated for completion by Christmas 2024.

The original Long Groyne construction was completed back in 1939.

To prolong the groyne’s lifespan, it was surrounded in rock in the late eighties after concrete repairs were originally carried out in the 1960s. It then underwent further repairs in the 1990s.

Following the Valentine’s Day Storm of 2014, rock armour repairs took place and, in 2019, inspections revealed the structure had several voids below the waterline and was at risk of local collapse.

Councillor Andy Hadley, Portfolio for Climate Response, Environment and Energy, said:

“The Long Groyne plays a significant role in reducing the risks of coastal flooding and erosion from the Purbecks to Hurst Spit, and it’s great to see the work starting on site.

“The current Long Groyne is life-expired and during storm events, is frequently submerged by sea waves, compromising its performance as a coastal defence structure.

“These works will ensure our coastline is more resilient to projected sea level rise and the increasing number of storm events predicted over the next 100 years.

“The upgrade will also enable us to deliver innovative environmental enhancements to improve the natural environment.”