BEACH group volunteers and councillors have met with Environment Agency officials in a bid to cure Canvey’s “eroding” beach – but their efforts were hampered because the tide was in.

The meeting was called after islanders raised concerns that sand levels from Concord Beach to Thorney Bay may have dropped by as much as two metres.

The underside of the island’s seawall, broken slabs and rocks are now clearly visible as a result of shifted sand.

However, yesterday morning’s meeting with the officials hit a stumbling block, as the group was unable to see all of the beach – on account of the tide being in.

Despite the setback, officials believe the levels to have fallen as a result of adverse weather and think sand is likely to return in spring.

Barry Campagna, from Canvey Bay Watch group, believes dredging carried out in the Thames Estuary by DP World in 2012 may be a contributing factor. He said: “There are those that who believe that sand just comes and goes.

“While this is true, I don’t think we’ll be getting the same sand levels in return. This hasn’t just happened recently, there has been a shift over a long period of time.

“I honestly think the DP World dredging to make the channel deeper for the bigger ships has suckedalot of the sand out and has made the situation worse.

“Ultimately, it’s a combination of all the factors, and I think it needs replenishing with either sand or shingle before the start of the summer season.”

Colin Letchford, from the Friends of Concord Beach, believes the sand will return, but that the loss of mud makes an area around the beach’s paddling pool unsafe.

He said: “What’s happening is that with the sand shifting away, the mud around the pool is eroding and causing rocks and to drop and crack.

“Now obviously with the possibility of children playing near to it, we need to get this addressed. The pool and the seawall themselves are safe but it’s the beach itself which is becoming unsafe.”

David Knagg, Essex Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, has urged for caution and says further meetings are planned with Castle Point Council.

He said: “It’s a bit early yet to say that the beach has disappeared completely, and we have listened carefully to what councillors and volunteers have said. First and foremost the meeting was to check if the flood defences were sound, this proved to be the case.

“The issue of the falling sand will take further investigation, and we will be discussing this with Castle Point Council to determine who is going to lead on that.”


Falling levels have no impact on seawall

CASTLE Point Council insists the falling levels have had no impact on the seawall, and that it will keep a watch on the beach.

David Marchant, chief executive of the council, said: “The movement of sand and mud from the beaches during the winter by weather and water movement is not unusual.

"Spring usually brings the return of the sand. Members of the public are assured that the flood defences are perfectly safe and have not been affected.

“The Environment Agency are carrying out just normal routine maintenance of the seawall flood defences.

"All the agencies with their different responsibilities for the beach monitor the condition of the beach and sea defences.”