Flood defence scheme to protect Beadnell from rising sea levels

Beadnell beach by Gary Fitchett

Beadnell beach by Gary Fitchett

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Plans are being put together by the Environment Agency for a £1.2 million flood defence scheme in Beadnell.

The plan is to carry out coast protection improvements on the seaward side of Harbour Road, the need for which recently became clear when stormy seas left the road covered in debris.

Further works would be carried out on the sea wall and gabions (wire baskets containing stones) that are in place already.

Beadnell resident Peter Gomarsall said: “Local residents obviously welcome the protection offered to our coastline particularly in light of the recent storm surges and the battering it had received over the past couple of months.

“There is visible evidence of the damage caused, damaged and eroded cliff faces, broken gabions and fractured sea walls.”

The proposal is listed in Northumberland County Council’s capital programme for the next two years.

A council spokesman said: “Maintenance repairs and improvements have been identified for the sea wall and gabions at the north coast at Beadnell.

“We are currently considering the options for this work, and developing a business plan and possible funding package.

“The current proposal is subject to approval for funding from the Environment Agency.”

Inclusion in the medium term capital programme signifies approval in principle, and each individual scheme will be subject to business case approval in line with the council’s constitution.

The council’s strategy for Harbour Road is to ‘hold the line’ and protect it from erosion as it is recognised as a vital link for the harbour and the sustainability of Beadnell.

But last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change increased its projections for sea level rises.

Some residents therefore believe the work being planned by the Environment Agency casts more question marks about the suitability of The Haven for housing development, as well as the neighbouring Dell Point.

These two areas currently do not figure for coastal reinforcement and are large enough to absorb natural erosion for the foreseeable future.

However, Jim Norris of the Save Beadnell Association believes that any development of this area would entail substantial and artificial coastal protection.

He explained: “Land on the seaward side of Harbour Road is designated as ‘hold the line’ by Northumberland County council and as such this coastal strip is seen as being of paramount importance to the protection of the village in the years ahead as coastal erosion/climate change begin to change the coastal profile.

“Some of this profile needs to be left in its natural state and be allowed to erode in a natural way whereas other areas, deemed necessary to maintain access down to the harbour, need artificial protection.

“The more artificial protection that is put in place, the more the problem of coastal erosion is simply shunted along the coast to other areas not to mention the on-going costs of its upkeep - which is why any new building development that entails artificial coastal defences runs counter to the welfare of not only the village itself but to other areas of the coast that will feel the negative effects of this additional localised reinforcement.”

It is understood the harbour itself has no major maintenance issues as the works carried out over ten years ago are still in good condition.

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