Ventnor Coastal Defence Scheme Information Page

Closes 29 Sep 2028

Opened 27 Jan 2022

Overview

Ventnor undercliff

Ventnor undercliff – Ventnor town has been developed on terraces created by relic landslides

Welcome to the Ventnor Coastal Defence Scheme Information Page.

The Environment Agency have created this page to provide easy access to information on the Ventnor 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. 

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

Background

The Environment Agency in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council, with expert support from JBA Consulting and VolkerStevin, are exploring a sustainable future for the coastal frontages of Ventnor and Bonchurch, located on the south eastern coast of the Isle of Wight.

Ventnor Coastal Protection and Slope Stabilisation Scheme. Site location map. Credit: OS © Crown copyright (2021)

Ventnor and surrounding villages are located on ‘the Undercliff’, a large deep seated coastal landslide complex, initiated by sea level rise at the end of the last ice age (approximately 10,000 ago). It is one of the largest urbanised landslide complex in north-west Europe. As a result of the underlying geology, topography, coastal erosion and seasonal fluctuations in groundwater levels, historical landslide movements range from continuous small scale creep to less frequent, larger scale events which have caused significant damage.

Cross section through the landslide complex at Ventnor park

Cross section through the landslide complex at Ventnor Park showing multiple landslip blocks

More Information

Coastlines are naturally dynamic environments, where erosion and change is a common occurrence. To reduce risks to people, property, infrastructure, environmental habitats and the species they support, coastal erosion risk management requires a careful and holistic approach, especially in this area of potential landslide reactivation such as the Undercliff.

In the past, seawalls have protected the steepest and most developed parts of the town from toe erosion and have reduced risks, but in the face of accelerated climate changes (sea level rise and increasing winter rainfall), how will these risks be best managed in the future?

More Information

Some sections of the coastal defences are in a good condition, and are expected to offer sufficient protection for many years to come, whilst other sections are in need of repair. Areas of the coastal defences which are in poor condition leave them susceptible to significant failure within 10 years. Loss of the defences would result in coastal erosion at the base of the landslide complex, potentially increasing the risk of landslide reactivation. It is therefore proposed to replace sections of the existing coastal defences as part of the scheme.

Whilst the main cause of landslide reactivation is coastal erosion, the defences themselves remain vulnerable to damage from land movement driven by seasonal groundwater fluctuations. This risk is expected to increase due to the impacts of climate change. Management of groundwater levels, via deep drainage wells, will be explored at the next stage of the scheme's development.

More Information

The Environment Agency, on behalf of the UK government, prioritises and allocates funding to flood and coastal erosion risk management schemes using a partnership funding approach. Securing national funding is dependent on the scale of benefits and outcomes delivered by a scheme and, if required, funding contributions may be from other sources such as local levy (raised by the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees), private or public organisations.

More partnership funding details can be found here.

Current estimates suggest the Ventnor scheme would be eligible for circa £41 million of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Grant in Aid funding. However, scheme costs, benefits and potential contributions are very much dependent upon further investigations.

More Information

No decisions have yet been made about how best to address erosion risks in this area. Since September 2020 the Environment Agency have been gathering information and putting a case together for public investment in flood and coastal risk management infrastructure improvements. The Environment Agency submitted a high level business case (a ‘Strategic Outline Case’) to its internal assurance group in August 2021. Approval, received in November 2021, justifies funding for the next stage of business case development (Outline Business Case).

The ‘Outline Business Case’ stage, which will begin in spring 2022, and the scheme is proposed to be developed over approximately 6 years. This will allow options for improving the defences and managing groundwater levels and their implications to be more fully explored.  This will include on site investigations and assessing seasonal changes.

More Information

The project is still in its early stages and the Environment Agency have identified a wide range of options to reduce the existing risk of landslide activity. The Environment Agency will, however, need your thoughts and ideas to supplement its technical assessments, to develop these options. This will take time, but the Environment Agency will increase its engagement activities in the coming months as it introduces the project, shares initial findings, and gathers views on what is valued about the coastline as well as any concerns about its future. Throughout this project there will be numerous opportunities for you to feed into its development and would encourage you to do so.

Frequently asked questions can be viewed here.

Further information about current and future coastal risks the Ventnor Undercliff area can be accessed via the Isle of Wight Council website, where there are links to the Isle of Wight Shoreline Management Plan, past Technical and Non-Technical Reports on ground instability, and an Advice to Homeowners leaflet.

Back to the Overview page

Get in touch

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

If:

  • you are not able to access any of the information on this page.
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Audiences

  • Anyone from any background

Interests

  • Flood management
  • Coastal management