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The future of Cuckmere Haven

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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 19:25   #1
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The future of Cuckmere Haven

This concerns the the future of Cuckmere Haven in E.Sussex a well known beauty spot, and a great local birding site which i often visit.

Yesterday i attended an exhibition in Seaford E.Sussex) put on by the envirionment agency to explain to interested parties their proposals as to the management of the area as the current river banks and other flood defences are coming to the end of their useful lives.

The agency put forward various options, but the one they favoured does concern me. It recommends firstly flooding the land on the west side of the river up to and including Vanguard Way, then flooding the east side engulfing the meanders and the concrete path that leads to the beach.

When asked about wildlife habitat i was told that "It would change" and that the area "Should" become saltmarsh. Also when asked about access by the public i was informed that it was not in the agencys remit and anything of that nature was up to the local council

I would urge any members who are interested to visit the agency website and have a look at the various proposals and appraise themslves of the situation

I am not sure of the best solution, but perhaps their are some knowledgeable members who can explain ,in simple terms ,the best way forward for all concerned.

All comments welcome

Regards to all
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Old Monday 22nd October 2007, 07:38   #2
Farnboro John
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I guess this is in anticipation of sea level rise. You're probably aware that the favoured response is managed retreat, and in some places this is going to change the landscape substantially.

At least saltmarsh is still wildlife habitat, they're not proposing a marina or other blot on the landscape. Unless there's something I'm missing here I can't see a real issue.

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Old Monday 22nd October 2007, 14:09   #3
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I'm glad this has been brought up and hopefully some BFers can offer their opinions. I have been visiting Cuckmere Haven and the Cuckmere Valley for nearly 30 years, long before I became a birder. It is a gloriously beautiful downland landscape.

As I understand it the owners, The National Trust, and The Environment Agency, who manages the coastal defenses, want to ALLOW the valley to flood. This would not happen instantly but would result, maybe after a period of years, probably during a period of prolonged heavy rain combined with storm conditions and a very high tide. The proposal is not specifically intended to benefit birds or wildlife but rather to save money on the exorbitant costs of maintaining the shoreline and river defenses which is vulnerable to erosion and flooding. Indeed I have seen the whole valley beyond Alfriston and Litlington flooded in the floods seven or eight years ago. I have come round to the view that due to climate change and rising sea levels the Cuckmere Valley will probably be one of the first places on the south coast to "go under" as sea levels rise. So it is probably inevitable that the lower valley will flood whatever is or isn't done.

It is something of a political "hot potato". Most of the locals want to keep it as it is; it is a much loved landscape and a tourist attraction. The town of Seaford and the local council are mostly against allowing it to flood. The SOS is, I think, in favour of allowing it to flood because they see it as attracting more birds. My question is will it really attract more birds (it is already pretty good) unless it is actively managed to do so? I am not aware that active wildlife management is part of the proposal. They seem to be a bit cagey on this.

Views from ecologists and scientists I think are especially needed.
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Old Monday 22nd October 2007, 20:08   #4
Matt Silk
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I have been aware of the Cuckmere Have thing for sometime, but I thought they were only going to flood the west side to start with, before doing the whole thing.
As far as my opinion goes I think its great from a birdwatching point of view, and even better for birds, even if some of the locals are displeased.
As long as there are some pools/scrapes provided i cannot see any valuable habitat being lost (most of the area is just grass at the minute!) and it would provide great habitat for those all important breeding waders (Redshank, Lapwing et al.) as well as more passage and wintering coastal species.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2007, 19:02   #5
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The future of Cuckmere Haven

When I started this thread the object was to make people aware of the situation regarding the future of Cuckmere Haven in respect of the proposals put forward by the environment agency.

The need for clarification became more apparent during a days birding there recently, when talking to birders and other people two points emerged:

1, That it had all been decided and work (or withdrawal of same) would commence shortly.

2, That only the west side of the river would be affected, and the east side would remain as it is, and they did not realize that in time this would flood too covering the boat house/car park/concrete path leading to the beach.

Joanne, I think you hit the nail on the head when you used the phrase:"Unless it is actively managed", this might be the best solution, I'm sure that the environment agency would not want to get involved, maybe a local wildlife organization?

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Old Monday 14th January 2008, 12:53   #6
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My name is James. I'm trying to expand an article on wikipedia for Cuckmere Haven. If anyone is interested in contributing to the article please do. It's really nice to see people taking an interest in the haven's future.

I'd really like to get more information about the birds and wildlife that you may have seen in the haven.

Feel free to send a message or edit the article directly on wikipedia


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