What coastal change is

Brighton & Hove's coastline is fully defended. This means the effects of coastal change are limited. Coastal change includes things like erosion and movement of beach material. 

Find information about coastal change from Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs).

Our coastline is divided into 2 sections by the Marina at Black Rock.

How the west of the Marina is controlled

The shingle beaches to the west of the Marina are controlled by groynes. 

The wind usually comes from the south west. So, shingle and sand is moved east by a process called longshore drift. 

You can see this at groynes where the shingle builds up against the west side and is lower on the east. The shingle moves back after some winds from the east.

There’s not a lot of natural feed of shingle onto our beaches. The main way shingle comes to our beaches is when Shoreham Port Authority recharges their beaches. 

This means they collect shingle from their beach to the west of the River Adur. They then bring it by lorry to put on their beaches on the east side. 

This shingle then gradually moves along to the Marina. This means the size of the beach gradually increases as you go east.

How the east of the Marina is controlled

Chalk cliffs

The main feature of the coastline to the east of the Marina is the chalk cliffs and a wave cut platform. A wave cut platform is the flat ground at the bottom of a cliff.

The Undercliff Walk was built before World War 2 to defend the cliffs from erosion. We worked to re-enforce and stabilise the area in the early 2000s. This meant it was safe to open the path to the public.

There is an information board at the foot of the cliffs at Black Rock. We manage this sitel. 

The cliffs are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This means Natural England must agree to any work that may affect the cliffs.


Not a lot of shingle comes onto this part of the coast. This means that large beaches do not naturally form against groynes. Instead, there is a sea-wall to defend the cliffs from erosion.

Imported beach material

The beaches at Rottingdean and Saltdean are made from imported beach material. This helps defend against coastal change.

The Channel Coastal Observatory regularly surveys beaches in the south east. You can find the results of these surveys from the Channel Coastal Observatory.