Christchurch Beach Recycling and Rock Groyne Repairs, spring 2021

Recycling existing beach material to adjust levels at Avon, Friars Cliff and Highcliffe beaches, carrying out repairs to the existing rock groynes across the Christchurch frontage, and placing additional rock armour to reinforce the Steamer Point path.


BCP Council



From 4th May 2021


18th June 2021

The extent of the works: from Mudeford Sandbank in the west to Highcliffe Beach in the east.

The extent of the works: from Mudeford Sandbank in the west to Highcliffe Beach in the east.

About the project

BCP Council monitors beach levels across our entire frontage. Our aim is to provide a high and wide beach which is the first level of coastal defence and protects the seawall, which in turn protects the areas behind.

These works at Christchurch will help ensure that local beaches are protected from erosion by the sea. By redistributing beach material we will ensure a good level of protection is maintained and works together with the groynes (sediment retaining structures) and other defences.

Works comprised:

Project progress is detailed  below

Rock groyne repairs, Mudeford Sandbank

18th June

Groyne realignment works & new groyne markers at Mudeford Sandbank complete this project

Beach recycling

Beach levels have been topped-up using local beach material at:

  • Avon Beach and Friars Cliff Beach, across 4 groyne bays using material recycled from Highcliffe beach
  • Highcliffe Beach, using material recycled from Highcliffe’s eastern groyne bays.

Friars Cliff, 2nd June

These 2 photos, taken 7 days apart, show the natural grading of the cliffing to level the beach.

Beach top-up progress 23rd May

15th May 2021

Steamer Point path

The path has been reinforced with additional rock armour to protect it from sea erosion, completed May

Rock groyne repairs, Avon Beach to Highcliffe Beach

During May existing groynes were re-aligned, using rock that has been displaced by wave action in recent years and adding new rock to strengthen the groynes.

Groyne beacon posts, which act as navigation aids, were fixed or replaced.

Progress 23rd May

15th May 2021

Environmental Considerations

Prior to the works starting we carried out a number of environmental surveys across the frontage from Mudeford Sandbank to Highcliffe to mitigate for the risk of nesting birds. This was because the work areas, in particular at Mudeford Sandbank, were identified as a potential risk for nesting birds, especially the rare Rock Pipit, which has been known to nest in rock groynes.

Nesting bird assessments May 2021

Bird assessments were carried out by local Ecologist Nick Woods and BCP Council’s Biodiversity Officer. The findings are presented in a report produced May 2021:


Monitoring beach volumes from Mudeford to Highcliffe

Occasionally beach material within Christchurch Bay is lost because of ongoing natural processes and winter storms. We carefully monitor the beach levels to ensure they provide the required level of coast protection. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had originally anticipated that beach levels on both sides of the harbour at Mudeford Sandbank (as far as Hengistbury Head) and Avon Beach to Highcliffe would require topping-up. This would have involved the recycling and re-distribution of beach material from the offshore sand bars.

However, our latest survey analysis indicates that Mudeford Sandbank’s overall beach volume has increased since July 2019 and has remained quite stable since monitoring began in 2003. This means that in 2021 we do not need to top-up the Sandbank’s beach levels but we will continue to monitor levels closely. The beach levels from Christchurch harbour entrance to the boundary with Chewton Bunny have also seen an overall net increase in volume since 2003.