The harbour forms an essential part of Whitstable’s sea defences.
The 1953 floods demonstrated how vulnerable the low-lying parts of the town behind the harbour are to flooding. The main elements of sea defence at the harbour are the quay walls. For most of the harbour, these are steel sheet piles. Much of the land forming the quays was originally reclaimed in the early 1830’s and is fill material, which would seriously erode if the quay wall failed. Without this steel protection, much of the town would be regularly flooded.
The East Quay was rebuilt with new sheet piling in 2006 and the South Quay will need similar rebuilding over the next few years to prevent the sea breaking through. There is also a secondary cordon of walls around the harbour to protect against extreme wave action. These are being progressively upgraded to cope with the rise in sea level foreseen over the next fifty years. In some places, to maintain access to the harbour, these walls incorporate flood boards that have to be put in place in the very worst of flood warnings.
Published: Monday 05 February
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