£35m Canvey flood defence details to be shown to public

Details of a £35million project to renew Canvey Island’s existing flood defences along a 3km stretch of the Island’s southern seafront are set to be presented to the public.

The Environment Agency says the project will maintain the existing high level of tidal flood risk protection to thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure on Canvey Island for the next 50 years.

With work planned to start in March 2023 and last for two years, the Environment Agency adds says the project will leave the tidal defences better protected against against erosion, taking into account the effects of rising sea levels due to climate change.

The project will involve renewing and improving the erosion protection on the seaward face of the tidal defences, known as revetment, along a 3km stretch between Thorney Bay and the Island Yacht Club.

Revetment is man-made material placed on the slope of a tidal or river embankment which is needed to break-up and absorb the impact of waves hitting the slope and to protect the material making up the core of the embankment.

The existing revetment was not replaced or renewed during the construction of Canvey Island’s tidal defences in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The majority of the existing revetment is at least 60 years old and dates from the tidal defence repairs completed after the 1953 tidal surge which left 59 people dead and 13,000 having to be evacuated from their homes in Canvey. Some other areas of older revetment date back to the 1930s.

As well as refurbishing the existing tidal defences, additional enhancements will be made to the Canvey Island shoreline – an open stone asphalt revetment will be installed from Thorney Bay to north of Leigh Beck Point, with the exception of the immediate area of the Concord Cafe.

The new revetment will be laid at a shallower angle while a seaward walkway at key “pinch points” such as at the base of steps will be widened.

There will also be a complete replacement of all steps to the beach and the footpath on the top of the landward side of the sea wall all the way from Thorney Bay to Chapman Sands will be asphalted.

The Canvey Island project is part of a £10bn project to to maintain and improve flood defences around the Thames Estuary to protect 1.4 million people, £320 billion worth of property and critical infrastructure – including the City of London – from increasing tidal flood risk.

The Environment Agency is holding an information event on September 22 when residents can have the opportunity to find out more about the scheme, and to ask the project team questions. The drop-in will take place at the Canvey Island Football Club, Park Lane between 5pm to 7.30pm.

A statement as part of an Environmental Assessment Report into the plans said: “During the construction of the Canvey Island Southern Shoreline project, there is potential for impacts on the human population, biodiversity (qualifying bird species of the designated sites and intertidal habitat), unknown buried archaeology and the setting of heritage assets, traffic and transport and water quality.

“However, these effects can be mitigated and controlled through the Environmental Action Plan and other management plans.

“The operation of the project is anticipated to have positive impacts on access and amenity due to incorporation of elements such as new surfacing along the landward footpath.

“There will be some benefit to terrestrial biodiversity due to the inclusion of a floral seed mix on the reinstated area of the landward embankment, which will attract pollinators.

“There is likely to be a net loss of intertidal habitat at the site due to the new revetment having a flatter slope and thus a larger footprint than the existing one. However, this will be replaced by habitat creation offsite, elsewhere in Essex.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter