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Protecting Poole's Coastline at Whitley Lake

A project aimed at protecting Poole's coastline and building natural sea defences at Whitley Lake, Sandbanks will start on Monday 11 March 2013.

Over the next five years a study funded by the Environment Agency will investigate ways of creating and regenerating a saltmarsh foreshore or sandy beach in front of the sea wall at the popular windsurfing area along Banks Road.

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Whitley Lake foreshore

Sand levels here were once much higher and heavily populated with saltmarsh, vegetation that grows in salt water, which provided a natural coastal defence.

Three trial areas will be constructed in March, each using a different material to encourage a natural build up of sand and silt which in turn will raise the level of the sea bed and should encourage saltmarsh or marram grasses to grow.

One area will consist of two shingle islands to raise the foreshore to a level that will help the regrowth of saltmarsh. Another will use timber to create a perimeter of approximately 30cm high which should naturally fill with silt and sand. The third area will use plastic drainage pipes to construct a similar perimeter.

Each trial will consist of an area of approximately six metres by two metres and be split into two sections. They will be monitored to assess their progress and evaluate which is best suited to the environmental conditions. Depending on the progress of each trial area, the shape, location and materials used could change if one method is not working.

Stuart Terry, Coastal Manager, Borough of Poole said: "It is widely understood that saltmarsh is a natural coastal barrier helping to reduce the impact of waves breaking on the foreshore. This reduces subsequent erosion of the foreshore which puts the existing sea defences at greater risk. By investigating ways of working with nature we hope to avoid or delay taking other measures such as increasing the height of the existing concrete wall around Whitley Lake when sea levels rise."

The whole of the Whitley Lake area will be monitored to assess the current retreat of the saltmarsh as part of the study which is being funded by the Environment Agency via FDGiA (Flood Defence Grant in Aid). The council will also be working with other stakeholders including Natural England and academic institutions to help identify, develop and evaluate further solutions where needed.

Cllr Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Borough of Poole, said: "We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to people using the area. However, it is vital we preserve the coastline as well as ensuring the stability of our existing sea defences to safeguard the borough. As well as protecting the assets behind the sea wall, the reinstatement of sand dunes and saltmarsh is an important natural habitat for birds and other wildlife. This is a great example of how the council is working with stakeholders/partner agencies to enhance and protect Poole's coastline for future generations."

For more information about the project please visit www.poolebay.net or call the Coastal Management Team on 01202 261330.