Dave Young admires the current works to boost the Harbour Arm 

New technology is helping work on the Hastings harbour arm, needed for flood protection, to be completed to plan and on schedule.

A combination of GSM and specialist software fitted to giant rock-moving machines allows them to work exactly to a 3D computer model of the project and place 24,000 tonnes of Cornish granite, shipped by barge from Falmouth, quickly and safely into place.

PICTURE: Hastings Council

Each block weighs between six and nine tonnes. Delivery by sea can only take place at high tide, while construction can only continue at low tide, so both processes may take place at any time of the day or night, weekends included.

The project is designed by Canterbury City Council engineering services, working through the East Kent Engineering Partnership, who have unrivalled local expertise in marine construction and coastal protection.

Construction work is being carried by J.T. Mackley Ltd, experienced coastal civil engineering contractors who are also currently working on the nearby Fairlight Cove Coast Protection scheme. The £1.95M cost is funded by the Environment Agency flood defence aid programme.

“The seafront adjacent to Carlisle Parade is one of the most at threat from flooding in South East England, and the town centre is below the high tide line,” explains Kevin Boorman, marketing and major projects manager for Hastings Council.

Following failed attempts to build a harbour dating back to 1560, the current storm-damaged harbour arm was begun in the 1890s but never completed. However the effects of longshore drift and the accumulation of shingle on the western side (originally the sea came right up to the A259 coast road) gave even the uncompleted arm an important role in protecting the fishing fleet and keeping the seafront safer. Repairs were made to the arm in 1970s but subsequently breached.

Now the gaps are being filled, and ‘shoulders’ constructed to reinforce the rest of the wall. Unlike the older part of the arm, the new structure will not be faced with concrete but designed with a deliberately uneven shape of stacked granite blocks that is better able to break the force of the waves, as well as giving a more natural appearance. When the work is completed it should provide storm protection for Hastings’ beach-launched fishing fleet for at least a hundred years.

The reconstruction follows on from earlier initiatives to create new rock groynes on the beach
to the west.  The entire project is expected to be completed by mid-September.

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