Storms showed need for new sea defences

Surfers at Sandsend, copyright:
Surfers at Sandsend, copyright:

A scheme of sea defences is set to be implemented at Sandsend after the project was given unanimous approval last week.

The work will see a 1km stretch of sea defences installed in an attempt to halt the erosion beside the A174 coastal road.

Flood damage at Sandsend

Flood damage at Sandsend

However, local surfers have raised concerns that the project could put their lives at risk, if concerns are not addressed.

The Sandsend scheme will protect 16 houses in the village, including the doctor’s surgery, and project co-ordinator Mark Young, himself a Whitby resident, said he was eager to get work underway.

“I was very pleased to get across that planning step,” he said. “The storms we had were an extreme event but they did demonstrate the need for the scheme.”

The £10 million scheme will be funded by North Yorkshire County Council with support from the Environment Agency.

Now that approval has been granted, the scheme will head out for tender, whereby engineering companies will bid for the contract to complete the work.

Mr Young said he hoped that following this process, work should begin late next year.

He added: “We want to balance the impact on businesses with the consequences of working through the winter and stormier conditions.”

The coastal protection scheme will see the concrete revetment in place along the A171 replaced with a new stepped system, including protective rock armour.

There will also be measures undertaken to stabilise the slope above the Sandsend road, with the infilling of Raithwaite gill outfall also set to take place.

Environmental concerns have been raised about the loss of habitat this could cause in the area.

Surfers who head to Sandsend beach to take advantage of the northerly swell and prevailing winds have also expressed concerns about the project.

They say the rock armour could even put their lives at risk.

Photographer Scott Wicking is a keen surfer who joins around 40 others who take to the waves at Sandsend. He said: “It’s not that we are against the scheme, but we want our views and the usage of the beach to be taken into account.”

Although no one can be sure of the effect the sea defences will have upon surf and the beach conditions, Mr Wicking said he is concerned that if it is not done correctly, it could ruin surfing at Sandsend.

With surfers from all over the country coming to Sandsend to experience the unique conditions offered by the northerly-facing beach, this could have a substantial economic impact on the area.

“The defences could kill the surf at high tide and make it dangerous for us going out there,” added Mr Wicking. “But then it might improve things, it’s all a bit unknown.”

Mr Young said these concerns will be addressed and the local authority is taking on board the concerns of the local community.

The recent storm surge which hit the coastline shifted 250,000 tonnes of sand from Sandsend beach, equivalent to around two metres in depth.

Work has begun to repair some of the damage this caused, including filling in huge cracks which opened up in the road.

However, by granting permission at a borough council planning committee recently, the local authorities have ensured this work is only temporary and the large-scale coastal protection process can now get underway.