Embankment Road (Bembridge) Coastal Defence Scheme Information Page

Closes 29 Sep 2028

Opened 27 Jan 2022


Welcome to the Embankment Road (Bembridge) Coastal Defence Scheme Information Page.

The Environment Agency have created this page to provide easy access to information on the Embankment Road (Bembridge) project, one of four priority coastal defence projects on the Isle of Wight. The Environment Agency will be updating this site as the project progresses, so please keep checking for what's new.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive updates on this project or any other of the Isle of Wight coastal defence projects, please email us and let us know which projects you are interested in. Our email address is: IOW_FDschemes@environment-agency.gov.uk

For information about other coastal defence projects on the Isle of Wight see here.

Latest updates:

Latest Update 28 February 2024

What work has been undertaken since the last update?


During September and October of 2023 ground investigations took place on Embankment Road. The investigative works included drilling 12 new boreholes, reinstatement of the surface and installation of some groundwater monitoring equipment. We worked closely with Natural England and the RSPB to find a suitable period for this work to be undertaken to ensure minimal disturbance to this sensitive habitat.


Findings from Ground Investigation works

The results of these investigative works have shown the embankment core is likely to have been constructed from dredged material and quarried chalk fill. It is generally low in strength. The infill material has a low resistance to scour and would eroded easily should the encasement around it fail. The ground investigation found that the embankment fill is relatively consistent across its length based on the locations where it was practical for us to do the survey.

Now the composition of the embankment is understood the project team have assessed how a breach in the seaward side of the defence might occur and the likely timescales of a potential failure given the current condition of the asset. Overall the condition of the seawall is good with an average 27 years of useful life, however there are some locations where the embankment is in poor condition and repairs are needed in order to extend its useful life.

The impact of wave over topping has also been assessed. Overtime with sea level rise this will increase. Without scour protection on the landward side of the embankment at some point in the future there is a risk that the embankment may also fail because of erosion at the rear of the defence. We are currently assessing whether it is beneficial to do that work now or in the future.


What’s next?

The project team are now assessing different options to repair the sections of the embankment which are in poor condition. Our solution may also include some scour protection on the landward side of the embankment. But on the whole it is a simple patch and repair maintenance project, which will not change the current height of the defence. During the next few months we will develop an outline design of the construction works which we will share with the community and stakeholders. 


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Ground investigation work

Ground investigation work starts on 4 September 2023. Specialist equipment will be used to drill boreholes at various points along Embankment Road to retrieve a core which is sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results will give the project team information about the ground conditions. 

Download our Frequently Asked Questions document here.

A plain text version is available here.


The Environment Agency, in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council and expert support from JBA Consulting and VolkerStevin, are assessing the need for refurbishment of the coastal defences which form Embankment Road, Bembridge Harbour. This frontage stretches between the settlements of St Helens and Bembridge on the north east coast of the Isle of Wight, with a focus on the area from Bembridge Sailing Club in the east to St Helens sluice gates in the west. This is shown by the red line on the map.

The coastline around Embankment Road and the inland habitats it protects is characterised by a variety of low-lying coastal habitats including saltmarsh, mudflats, saline lagoons as well as grassland and woodland in the Eastern Yar valley. The habitat and species which can be found along this section of the coast are of international importance, providing a landscape with rich biodiversity and cultural heritage enjoyed by a range of recreational users for activities such as bird watching, walking, fishing and sailing.

The Embankment Road project aims to investigate the challenges facing this area of coastline now and how climate change over the next 20 years may impact the area. The project will assess the current condition of the embankment and whether repairs are required.

More Information

Embankment Road is an important local infrastructure link but also provides flood protection to the designated habitats behind it (within Brading Marshes). Some areas of the embankment are in poor condition, leaving it susceptible to failure where exposed to waves and high tides. This will put the coastal grazing marsh, lagoons and inland habitats at ever increasing risk of tidal flooding. This matters because the habitats, and the species that they support, thrive in freshwater conditions and would not be able to tolerate a significant increase in salinity. These habitats are considered so valuable that they are protected by law under the Habitats Directive.
The Environment Agency needs to ensure that the impacts of doing nothing, as well as those of taking any action, are properly assessed.
Climate change could lead to further impacts as a result of sea level rise. If no action is taken, not only will there be increased tidal flood risk to the designated habitats and the species they support, but properties, infrastructure and low-lying land within the Eastern Yar Valley between Bembridge Harbour and the Sandown coastline will become increasingly susceptible to tidal flooding over time. Currently, the risk to property is minimal but we expect there to be several hundred properties at risk by the year 2121. Some of these are in the area surrounding Embankment Road, but the majority are located in Sandown, which is at risk from tidal flooding via both Embankment Road and the Yaverland to Sandown coastal frontage. The Environment Agency is also progressing a coastal protection scheme between Yaverland and Sandown. The project page can be found here.

More Information

Any project must meet strict funding rules. The Environment Agency is currently expecting this scheme to be funded using central government funding as it has a legal duty to protect and enhance biodiversity. However, the limited amount of government funding available for projects such as this has to be prioritised nationally and it must therefore keep funding under review. Renewed justification must be provided at key points in the project to unlock funding for the next phase. Funding from other organisations and beneficiaries will be required to supplement the available government funding and the Environment Agency will be exploring partnership funding opportunities in more detail at the next stage of the project.

More Information

The project is in its very early stages and no decisions have yet been made about how best to address the flood and erosion risks in this area. The Environment Agency have completed an initial assessment of the condition of the Embankment Road flood defences, and identified areas which need further inspection, monitoring or immediate repair. The Environment Agency will be contacting landowners and directly affected individuals to discuss our findings.
Since Autumn 2020 the Environment Agency have been gathering information, such as the condition assessment, and putting a case together for public investment in short term flood and coastal risk management infrastructure improvements at Embankment Road. This is because the Environment Agency have a legal duty to protect and enhance biodiversity. The Environment Agency have submitted a high level business case (a ‘Strategic Outline Case’) to its internal assurance group, and approval was received in December 2021. This approval unlocks funding for the next stage of investigation and business case development. We are currently pursuing the ‘Outline Business Case’ stage, which began in spring 2022. The 'Outline Business Case' will develop more detailed options for managing flood risk and coastal erosion, and will allow the Environment Agency to undertake any flood modelling and other technical assessments to help us make informed decisions.
Further action will need to be taken in the future, beyond any short term repair work, to address the continued risk of flooding to properties and the environment in the Eastern Yar valley. The short term works will extend the life of the existing tidal defences until sea level rise is predicted to accelerate and a sustainable approach to managing tidal flood risk and coastal erosion in the medium to long term needs to be found. The Environment Agency is taking this phased approach in order to balance stakeholder interests, environmental impacts and value for money.

More Information

The Environment Agency wants to work alongside relevant stakeholders, especially the local community, to better understand and explore the challenges and opportunities facing this stretch of coastline now and over the next 100 years.
It will take time to develop ideas and options through consultation before the Environment Agency is ready to agree a preferred approach for the management of the tidal defences along Embankment Road. The Environment Agency is just beginning to engage with landowners, key organisations, and the wider community to introduce the project aims, and better understand what is valued about the coastline, as well as concerns and ideas about its future.
Throughout this project there will be numerous opportunities for you to feed into its development and the Environment Agency would encourage you to do so.

Frequently Asked Questions can be found here.

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Thank you for visiting our project page.

Please contact us:

By email: IOW_FDschemes@environment-agency.gov.uk

By post: Environment Agency, Romsey Office, Canal Walk, Romsey, SO51 8DU

By phone: 03708 506 506


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