We live on a UK island – it was paradise but now it's being ruined by council… our pub will end up in the SEA | The Sun
DISTRESSED residents of a once sand dune-lined paradise say botched council projects have turned their island into the "third world".
Some on Hayling Island in Hampshire – home of late Pink Panther star Peter Sellers – say ripping out sea defences and not replacing them has left the council in an endless battle against sea erosion.
And after years of beach rejuvenation – that sees 18 tonne JCB trucks dumping aggregate on the beach – residents say they've had enough.
Nick Scutt, 64, who has lived on the island most his life, told The Sun: "For many years we had a lovely sandy beach at Hayling.
"But they've just dumped thousands and thousands of tonnes of stones all the way along it, it's like Brighton now.
"The road near the beach has been worn away, the Inn on The Beach pub will be gone in three or four years, half the park is gone.
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"A really nice seaside resort has been ruined."
Havant Council-employed diggers turn up every autumn and spring for around two to three weeks.
In recent months, they shifted a monster rubble mountain plonked next to the island's Light Railway, creating what one local branded an "eyesore".
Nature lover Lizzie records the activity and has even confronted workers who she alleges tried to stop her filming the operation.
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Fearing they are inflicting untold damage to Hayling, she said: "Beaches need protection, but this is just not going to work.
"If we have another storm, this will just get washed away."
Among the worst impacted areas is the western end of the island which had a sea wall torn out and never replaced.
The decision meant the sea ate away at the beach before a storm triggered a "disaster", destroying around 20 beach huts valued at £400,000, one cafe worker said.
Surviving huts were moved "temporarily" onto a car park, knocking thousands off the value of abodes which sell for up to £30,000 and command £1,200-a-year in ground rent.
They moved us here, they said it was temporary, they never said where the permanent location would be, it's been four years now and no sign of that changing
Alan Wells, 66, was restoring the hut he's owned for 20-years on its new car park location when he said: "All the beach huts were sea facing. If you talk about real estate, they were in prime position.
"A couple of holes appeared where they hadn't maintained the groins, and every year the council would turn up and take stones and dump them in front of the beach huts.
"One December there was a mad panic and they said they needed to move the beach huts before a storm.
"They moved us here, they said it was temporary, they never said where the permanent location would be, it's been four years now and no sign of that changing."
Alan is "disappointed" and while grateful the move was free, he is now in a cul-de-sac of huts, some without sea-facing views, unlike his.
The sea's onward march has also destroyed a car park and is already eating away at the driving range on Sinah Common golf club.
Mr Doak, who has lived on Hayling since 1994, is livid at the situation.
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He told The Sun the old wooden sea wall only needed around 40 planks replaced – but the council said the roughly £6 million rebuild was too expensive.
Mr Doak fumed: "So they spent millions taking it all out and losing the beach.
"Now they do a s*** job on it every bloody year and keep botching it. If it carries on we will need a ferry to get to the ferry."
Havant Council say they spend a whopping £430,000 on beach works every year.
And the Environment Agency has awarded the council £3.3 million over seven-years to combat erosion.
But not everyone is so anti the efforts, with many locals arguing it is vital to stop Hayling slipping into the sea.
Ken Hearn, 89, was walking along the seafront where thousands of tonnes of aggregate has been placed to build up the beach.
He pointed out how the old promenade was buried around 5ft under the aggregate, but stressed: "There are 27 foot high swells. We need the build up to stop houses getting flooded.
"In a big swell, it builds and builds, often without warning. It starts coming over the top, it washes it (the defences away) and it piles it up."
The retired Air Sea rescue veteran reckons the sea has risen about six inches in twenty years due to climate change.
Mrs Rogers and Elaine Grey were walking their rabble of terriers when they spoke to The Sun
Mrs Rogers, who has visited Hayling since the 1960s, recalled stunning sand dunes, but now walks along big pebbles.
But she stressed: "It's eroding, the sea is taking over, obviously they need to put in sea defences to stop this.
"It's sad, we've lost all the sand dunes, but we've got a lot more people living here now, people need homes and need protecting. So what is the choice?"
Havant Council say permanent off-shore sea defences would not attract central government funding, as not enough homes are at risk.
They added: "Alternative coastal management approaches will be explored though our coastal strategy study which will consider their relative cost, benefits and impacts.
"Offshore structures would need to be very large to provide protection during extreme tides.
"At low tide they would stand tall, with a significant visual impact and pose a potential hazard to vessels and swimmers.
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"We pick up this shingle and return it by truck back to Eastoke as part of our infrastructure works.
"This beach recycling operation works with nature to sustain a healthy beach."
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