A £115,000 scheme to stop part of the West Sussex coastline being washed away was launched today.

Workmen are creating a rock bank to protect East Head, close to the entrance of Chichester harbour. The sand dunes are popular with walkers and are also used as an anchorage point by thousands of yachts and pleasure craft every year.

The work involves digging a 250 metre-long trench and using a crane to put in place boulders of up to two tonnes. Experts fear that if the dunes were washed away massive deposits of silt could clog up one of the busiest channels in Sussex.

Chichester Harbourmaster Lieutenant-Colonel John Davis said the scheme, which is financed by grants and donations, was designed to protect the harbour entrance without spoiling the environment.

The work is expected to take three weeks to complete and the contract has been awarded to Henfield-based Mackley Engineering.

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