Coastline concerns get continued airing

Barry And District News: COASTAL EROSION: Concerns raised over award-winning beach (4093587) COASTAL EROSION: Concerns raised over award-winning beach (4093587)

THE Vale Council has admitted sand movement along Barry’s popular coastline is “excessive” and giving “cause for concern.”

The Barry & District News, last week, re-visited traders and councillors’ concerns dating back to August 2008 in which they told the Barry & District News they feared Bristol Channel sand dredging was having a detrimental impact on the award-winning Whitmore Bay, Barry Island.

Barry & Vale Friends of the Earth also called for action then and now, but the Vale Council said it had since adopted a Shoreline Management Plan which detailed its strategic management arrangements for the coastline for the next 100 years.

Vale Council director of visible and housing services, Miles Punter said cabinet approved the Lavernock Point to St. Anne’s Head – Shoreline Management Plan in December 2012 and the plan detailed the short-term and medium-term policy, 0 to20 years and 20 to 50 years, at Whitmore Bay as ‘hold the line’.

Mr Punter said this meant maintaining the existing sea defences in their current position, with upgrades to counter climate change and sea level rise as necessary.

He said: "Clearly the amount of sand movement around our coastline and particularly at Whitmore Bay, as a result of the recent storms, is excessive and does give some cause for concern. We are currently investigating the reasons for this level of change and will be utilising all currently held empirical data in addition to undertaking our own surveys of the beach.”

He said the work’s technical nature meant it was likely local universities and shoreline management specialists would be enlisted.

He added: “This work will inform our sea defence maintenance and will assist us in planning for the short, medium and long term actions within the Shoreline Management Plan. It will also ensure that the amenity of the beach is protected along with the economic benefits this brings to Barry Island and the wider Vale area.”

Barry & Vale FoE co-ordinator Keith Stockdale said the group had no intention of reading through several hundred pages of reports which had no relevance to the here and now and the Vale Council should show what practical applications it was “going to make to defend us against Global Storming in the next three years, with a budget to match.”

“Central Government has cut the Council's budgets to such an extent that they cannot provide essential Social Services, yet alone make some provision to protect us against man-made Global Storming,” he added

Pro vice-chancellor and coastal geomorphology professor, Mike Phillips, of University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Swansea Metropolitan), said coastal environments were complex and there could be significant changes over relatively short timescales.

Mr Phillips said: “People then look for activities to blame for these changes, such as marine aggregate dredging. However, it is not that simple and in two cases where dredging was blamed for beach erosion (Penarth and Gower), meteorological factors such as storms and changes in wind directions were identified as the cause. Mean sea Levels are rising, as well as temperatures which in turn lead to more unpredictable storm patterns and higher extreme sea levels.

“Detailed studies should be undertaken at Whitmore Bay measuring seasonal beach levels and linking these to forcing agents - storms, winds and sea levels - to assess sand movement alongside meteorological conditions. Then appropriate management decisions can be made based on robust data. It will cost money but this will be negligible in comparison to the economic consequences of not doing so.”

Baruc councillor, Steffan Wiliam said he was pleased concerns had been acknowledged and he had requested a report.

He said: “Once the sand is gone it won't come back.”

The plan and its appendices are available at www.southwalescoast.co.uk/content.asp

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