These extraordinary pictures show the force of coastal erosion at one of the south coast's most popular harbours.

These extraordinary pictures show the force of coastal erosion at one of the south coast’s most popular harbours.

East Head at the mouth of Chichester Harbour is in grave danger of being cut in two – and a hasty rescue mission is underway overseen by the harbour authority.

Thirteen thousand cubic meters of sand and shingle are being transported from the thicker end of the natural breakwater to the thin strip in the middle.

Environmentalists have warned if the head is breached, tidal patterns in the harbour could be altered dramatically, destroying wildlife habitats, rerouting major channels and reducing navigation, possibly with the loss of boating altogether in the popular haven. There is also a risk of flooding to nearby West Wittering village.

The work will cost around £15,000 and will be paid for by the Harbour Conservancy and Chichester District Council.

In addition the National Trust is funding a programme of monitoring by Portsmouth University to assess the impact of the recycling works and will be funding the replacement of the boardwalks and other measures to allow continuing public access to East Head.

There will be no access to East Head during the works, over the next two weeks.