Compton Bay and Downs Island Roads engineering scheme

Cliffs movement at Compton Bay, Isle of Wight

Island Roads, on behalf of Isle of Wight Council, have submitted a planning application for completion of works on part of the Military Road, northwest of Brook Green. The location of the works is in an area of active coastal erosion and an important site for wildlife and geology, which is reflected in its national and international designations. The works are proposed as, currently, a ‘Chine’ is forming, which risks undermining this part of the Military Road.

The proposed works

Island Roads are intending to carry out works which will include drilling of a series of piles, back-filled with concrete to a depth of around 21m, and a new concrete retaining wall around 25m long will be constructed.  As part of the planning process, the work will require full planning permission and the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 

What does this mean for National Trust land?

We care for nearly all of the land on either side of the Military Road between Brook and Freshwater Bay.  We support adapting to and working with natural processes because of their importance for wildlife, habitats, and the value that this brings to everyone’s health and wellbeing, and enjoyment of the area.

We’re concerned about Island Roads’ proposals as we believe that they are seeking to halt coastal change and prevent natural processes that are important for nature conservation, as well as geological and landscape interest.  

Military Road snakes across the landscape at Compton
Military Road twisting across the clifftops and downs by the sea at Compton
Military Road snakes across the landscape at Compton

Assessing the application

Before we formally comment on the plans, we’ll be looking very closely at the planning application and EIA. We’ll need to consider whether the proposals would cause harm to the important environment that we care for, and we would like to see what alternative options have been considered and why these are not possible. We’ve been working with Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council in the early stages of the process and have made them aware of our willingness to discuss alternative, temporary arrangements that can help to inform choices made for the future of the road. 

Looking at all the information and making an informed decision will take time. Once we have completed this, we will be able to provide detailed comments, viewable to the public, as part of the planning application consultation.

For more information on the planning application, please see the Isle of Wight Council website.


What will be the impact on wildlife if the work goes ahead?

The area of the proposed works falls within a nationally and internationally designated site important for its landscape, geology and wildlife value.  It is important that Island Roads identify the possible impact of their proposals on this and the acceptability of this is determined through the planning process or any other consents that may be necessary.

Will Island Roads have to seek your permission as a landowner?

We believe that the scheme may affect our land. If this is the case, then such work may require our consent and legal agreement.

Can Island Roads override the National Trust’s decision?

If our land is affected then our agreement will be needed. In the absence of this, Island Roads and their client the Isle of Wight Council, may attempt to compulsory purchase the land.  However, if we are not in agreement with this, such a compulsory purchase will require special parliamentary procedure, as it is inalienable land.

Could this work proposed by Island Roads impact on another section of this coastline?

We would expect this to be fully covered in the environmental statement and we will comment if we feel this is lacking in detail.    

What’s the life span of the proposed works?

At this stage we have not been told the projected lifespan of the scheme but we expect this to be made clear in the planning application. We also expect there to be details on decommissioning the works, should it be given planning consent, once the purpose of the works is no longer viable.