New strategy to defence coastline

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THE PIER extensions may in future be protected by rock armour as part of a new strategy to safeguard the Whitby coast.

Stewart Rowe, Scarborough Borough Council’s principal coastal officer, gave a presentation at a full meeting of Whitby Town Council (6 Dec) about work that is taking place to create a new coastal defence strategy.

In this presentation he suggested that to completely repair all of Whitby’s sea defences, including the harbour, would cost around £80m.

Mr Rowe said: “All the defences around the country were built around the same time by the Victorians in the 1840s.

“They’re therefore coming to the end of their lives, but there’s also potentially around 200 years of steadily increasing sea levels to battle against.

“Because the water’s getting deeper, the waves are getting bigger, which undercuts the promenades and causes more problems.”

The new defence plan will replace the first strategy, produced in 2002, and incorporates five kilometres of coastline between Sandsend and Abbey Cliff, as well as extending into the River Esk estuary up to the New Bridge.

During this presentation, Mr Rowe explained that although a number of options will be researched, rock armour may be installed in the next five to seven years to protect the pier extensions, although he did add: “rock armour would only be accepted if it was below water level”.

Rock armour, described by one councillor as “ugly”, protects the piers by breaking up wave action and reducing erosion.

It would also reduce the volume of waves breaching over the pier extensions, making them safer to pedestrians.

The A174 was highlighted as a major concern by the engineer, especially the area at Raithwaite Gap, and so if that road is to remain open - a much-maligned idea to relocate the road has long been muted - a large amount of erosion protection is required to safeguard the coastline.

Another major issue, thrown into context recently, is the flooding of areas in the centre of Whitby, with many expecting this to take place with increasing frequency as global sea levels rise.

The flooding which took place on 27 November was a freak storm surge caused by a number of different factors, but unless preventative measures are put into place, it is set to become a serious problem for residents of Church Street and New Quay Road.

“My job is to attract central government grants to fix these things,” said Mr Rowe.

“The problem in Whitby is it’s not a vast number of properties that flood.

“Although it’s a tragedy for the individual, we’re in competition with the rest of Yorkshire for funding.”

Whitby Coastal Strategy 2 is being produced by Scarborough Borough Council in collaboration with Whitby Town Council, Whitby Harbour Board, North Yorkshire County Council, the Environment Agency, and Natural England.