Award-winning beach under threat?
9:03am Thursday 13th February 2014 in News
A BARRY environmentalist has warned Barry Island traders could be washed out of business if Bristol Channel sand dredging and recent storms continue to impact.
Barry and Vale Friends of the Earth (FoE) co-ordinator Keith Stockdale also said the listed Watch Tower, at the Knap, had been taking a battering, amid fears it could crumble into the sea.
His doom-laden warning follows concerns reported in the Barry & District News, in August 2008, in which seaside traders Marco and Tino Zeraschi said sand dredging in the Bristol Channel was depleting Barry's beaches of their sand with award-winning Whitmore Bay beach dropping by as much as 18 inches.
Traders said the bad weather conditions from the beginning of this year have caused sand levels to drop by another four foot and access to the beach has been restricted in parts.
Last week, the Barry & District News reported how more than 12 mooring barrels had emerged in the bay as the sand subsided.
The council removed them on Monday.
Mr Stockdale said: We have received reports about the loss of sand on Whitmore Bay, with the old ramps becoming visible. The opposite seems to be happening in the Old Harbour, where a large area of the harbour is now silted up and a huge sand bank has built up. This is stopping the sea water entering and filling the harbour. It is why Watchtower Bay is getting such a battering in these extreme conditions.
“There is plenty of sand there, to be moved to our denuded beaches. That method of replacing the lost sand would be sustainable and should form part of the Vale's coastal defence programme but don't expect immediate action from the council. The destruction of our beaches does not stop at Whitmore Bay however, Jackson's Bay is also lower on sand.”
He added: “The concern must be that with the next high tides and strong winds, the sea may come over the defences at Whitmore Bay, washing out Marco and all the other traders, destroying tourist and residents facilities. Whitmore Bay will now need bigger, better defences against the force of the sea, if Barry Island is to remain a place to visit.”
“The dredging of sand along the coast of South Wales should be stopped immediately.”
Barry Island trader Marco Zeraschi said: “In the last month over four foot of sand has been taken off the beach due to the severe storms, but we have had high tides and storms before. With all the sand dredgers in the Bristol Channel dredging sand for over 30 years it has got to have a massive effect on the beaches of the Bristol Channel - Welsh or English.
“I have never seen the beach so low of sand and I played and worked on Barry Island for 50 years. Someone has to look into this. Be it the council or government - they can't put their heads in the sand on this issue.”
Baruc councillor Nic Hodges said the mooring barrels at Whitmore Bay were also a symptom of increased dredging.
He said: “The council has no say or control over the amount of dredging or where it happens, we are simply asked for an opinion. If the Vale Council is serious about tourism in the county and Barry Island in particular then dredging and its obvious effect on our sands should be reduced and more robustly monitored.”
The Vale Council, in 2008, said there was no evidence to suggest Barry¹s beaches were affected.
Vale Council head of visible services Miles Punter, then said records showed minor variances in Whitmore Bay sand levels, with any losses at the landward end of the beach appearing to be compensated by higher levels further down the beach.
He said: "It is apparent that the sand at Whitmore Bay is subject to cyclical changes due to tidal action and, what may appear to be a loss of sand at the base of the sea wall, could be the result of movement within the bay.”
At the time of going to press, the Vale Council had not responded to a request for a comment and what it would do to protect Barry’s coastline in 2014.