Groyne renewal on East Cliff Beach

Posted 6th October, 2023

Work to renew three timber groynes along Bournemouth’s East Cliff Beach starts next week as part of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council’s continued work around protecting our coastline from erosion and flooding.

Contractors will be on site from Monday (9 October), where they will start carefully dismantling the groynes which need replacing.

Poole Bay Timber Groyne renewal 2023/24

Timber groyne renewals form part of the wider 17-year Poole Bay Beach Management Scheme, which started in 2015. The scheme is designed to help protect our coastline from flooding and erosion, making it more resilient to predicted sea level rise for the next 100 years.

The overall scheme is funded by the Environment Agency, who set aside £33 million in May 2020 to ensure its ongoing progress through until 2032.

The three groynes on East Cliff Beach will be replaced using a combination of new tropical hardwood timber and recycled planking, with work expected to be completed by the end of March next year.

The groynes measure between five and seven metres deep and are roughly 75 metres in length, with each one comprising 225 planks of timber.

The top five rows of each groyne are constructed using new wood, while recycled timber is used for the bottom 12 to 14 rows. Any wood that can’t be reused again in groyne renewal, but can for other projects, will see it repurposed to avoid waste.

Last year, suitable wood was used for cladding and decking at the Eco Hub at Durley Chine, a public bench at Harbourside Park, and further afield to help build a 1.2-kilometre footbridge which was created as part of a wetland scheme in the Tamar Valley, Cornwall.

Plans this time round include improvements to Lake Pier this autumn.

It’s not just the sea and harsh weather conditions that cause groynes to become worn and damaged. They are also under constant attack from a tiny crustacean, more commonly known as the gribble worm.

They resemble tiny pink lice no larger than a grain of rice which burrow deep into the groynes, making long tunnels which eventually weakens the timbers causing them to crumble and rot.

Cllr Andy Hadley, Portfolio Holder for Climate Response, Environment and Energy at BCP Council, said:

“This work marks the seventh year of groyne renewals as part of the larger Poole Bay Beach Management Scheme, which is vital in ensuring we protect our local communities from coastal flooding and erosion.

“Timber groynes typically need replacing every 25 years to slow down the loss of beach material moved by waves, and together with beach re-nourishment, they help to protect the seawalls and cliffs too. Without them, our coastlines could erode by up to a metre each year.

“This latest work has been carefully planned around public events and operations coordinated to minimise disruption to beach visitors and local businesses.

“It is really important to note that during this essential work, these areas become temporary construction sites, so we ask all beach goers and visitors to follow our safety signage.”

The promenade will remain open for the duration of the groyne replacement, but for safety reasons, the length of beach where work is taking place will be fenced off.

Sand becomes very unstable when it is excavated around the groynes, so people should keep out of these zones, even at low tide.

Dogs are to be kept on leads at all times. Once the work is finished, restrictions will remain in place until the sand dries out and becomes more compact and stable underfoot.

Contractors will be on site each day from Monday to Saturday and will primarily work during normal working hours until the renewals are complete. Some duties may be carried out during the lowest tides which will fall outside of daylight hours.