About the project

The Pathfinder Project is all about community involvement, and all key decisions have been made collectively, by members of the local community.

The focus of the project has been a series of engagement events (see opposite) at which local residents have worked alongside the Council, landowners and other statutory bodies to identify the different options, and together come up with a preferred approach for the future of the Cuckmere Estuary.  To support this work, new research has been commissioned on the economy, visitors, landscape and heritage of the Estuary, and new visual modelling has been produced.  

The Project involves the following steps:

Sharing understanding
Stage 1 was to give those involved in the project the chance to learn more about the reasons for the Environment Agency’s decision to withdraw flood maintenance and present evidence for alternative options. The EA presented their evidence at the first workshop ‘Sharing the EA’s Understanding’  held on 22 April 2010.  At this workshop participants requested a second event at which members of the community could be given a similar platform to present the evidence for alternative management options for the Estuary.  This workshop, ‘Sharing Community Understanding’, was held on 3 June.   

Event downloads
Summary report of 22 April and 3 June workshops (Hopkins Van Mil)
22 April Environment Agency presentation (Ian Nunn)
22 April Environment Agency presentation (Ray Traynor Jacobs)
22 April Modelling presentation (Scott Ferguson, Capita Symonds)
3 June Alternative Solution presentation (Alan Edgar)
3 June Alternative Solution presentation (James Mumford, Environmental Assessment Services Ltd)
3 June Environment Agency presentation (Ray Traynor Jacobs)
3 June Environment Agency points of clarification

Agreeing the options
Stage 2 was to agree a shortlist of possible options for the future management of the estuary, in the light of the Environment Agency’s decision. Members of the Cuckmere Community Forum prepared a report on options and these were discussed at an intensive community workshop held on 14 December 2010. It was agreed, at the workshop, to assess six options in addition to the 'baseline' option, of doing nothing.

Event downloads
Summary report of 14 December workshop (Hopkins Van Mil)
Cuckmere Estuary Options Summary Report (Community Forum)
Cuckmere Estuary Options Full Report (Community Forum)

Reviewing the evidence
Stage 3 has been to fill gaps in our knowledge about the Cuckmere and to commission four new research studies, on the economy, landscape, visitors and heritage. The research is being carried out in two phases. Phase 1 looks at the current situation, and was presented for discussion by members of the community at an evidence event on 8 February 2011. The reports are available from the research page of this website. Copies of the presentations are available to download below.  

Event downloads
Summary report of 8 February evidence event (Hopkins Van Mil)
Landscape presentation (David Huskisson)
Visitors survey presentation (Parves Khan, Tourism South East)
Economic study presentation (Dr Rob Tinch, eftec)
Heritage assets presentation (Klara Spandl, Oxford Archaeology) 

Phase 2 looks at what might happen in future, under each of the options agreed in Stage 2. This second phase of the research was presented to the public for discussion on 5 April 2011.

In addition to the research, ESCC also commissioned new modelling and analysis, which uses a detailed review of the geomorphology and hydrology of the Cuckmere to assess likely changes over time, based on the options identified by the community. The full report is available from the modelling page of this website. The results of the modelling were presented to the public at the second evidence event on 5 April 2011. Copies of all the presentations given at this event are available below.

Event downloads
Summary report of 5 April event (Hopkins Van Mil)
Presentation of the modelling (Scott Fergusson, Capita Symonds)
Coastal processes review (Richard Young, RYE consultancy)
Landscape presentation phase 2 (David Huskisson) 
Heritage presentation phase 2 (Casper Johnson, ESCC) 
Visitors survey presentation phase 2 (Parves Khan, Tourism South East) 
Economic presentation phase 2 (Dr Rob Tinch, eftec)

Setting the assessment criteria
Stage 4 has been to agree the criteria against which the seven different options for the future should be assessed.  The criteria were discussed and assessed at an intensive community workshop held on 8 March 2011. 

Event downloads
Summary report of 8 March evidence event (Hopkins Van Mil) 

Testing and piloting
Stage 5 has been to test the options against the criteria, using the evidence from the modelling and the research studies. This took place in an intensive community workshop held on 12 April 2011.

Event downloads
Summary report of 12 April piloting workshop (Hopkins Van Mil)

Agreeing the approach together
Stage 6 was a major public meeting held on 7 June 2011, at which members of the community assessed each of the seven options against the agreed criteria and together reached consensus on the future management of the Cuckmere.

The preferred option was to maintain the existing defences for the time being. There was a very strong consensus that the meanders are the most important feature of the Estuary, and that any long-term solution should seek to retain or enhance them. The community therefore decided to also explore further the option of reactivating the meanders as a longer-term solution.

Event downloads
Summary report of 7 June public meeting (Hopkins Van Mil)

A full report of the process and the outcome of the Cuckmere Pathfinder Project will be presented to DEFRA and published on this website over the summer.

Events timeline at a glance

14 December 2010  
Options Identification (Intensive Workshop)

8 February 2011   Landscape, Visitors, Heritage and Economy of the Cuckmere:  Evidence Presentation Stage 1 (Public Event)

8 March 2011   Assessment criteria agreement (Intensive Workshop) 

5 April 2011   Landscape, Visitors, Heritage and Economy of the Cuckmere: Evidence Presentation Stage 2 (Public Event) 

12 April 2011  Options Assessment Pilot (Intensive Workshop)

7 June 2011 Planning for Change at the Cuckmere (Public Event)