The Weymouth Harbour & Esplanade Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy includes the development of harbour walls and esplanade sea defences.
Weymouth is already impacted by flooding and coastal erosion, and is predicted to see a substantial increase in similar problems going forward. Sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 1.3m over the next 100 years, and more intense weather events are expected as a result of climate change – both are likely to have a significant impact on the town.
The council’s preferred approach is set out in the strategy, and has been developed by bringing together the findings and recommendations from numerous research studies undertaken by both the council and the Environment Agency.
The plan will require engineering works on a huge scale, along with investment of more than £115million, to be provided from multiple sources. Dorset Council would fund approximately 25% of the total, to be agreed as projects come forward for approval.
The plan includes an extensive programme of wall replacement and raising around both the harbour and esplanade with the aim of reducing flood risk. Walls that are deteriorating, some of which are already at the end of their design life, will be replaced.
The strategy timeline is divided into three key phases. Phase one starts in 2020 and covers three key areas:
Harbour sea defence walls – 2020 to 2030
With the predicted future sea level rise, the current harbour walls are too low to cope. This could result in an increased level of risk and stifled development. Walls need to be replaced or raised at the appropriate times to ensure protection is maintained.
The council plans to replace seven sections of harbour walls (eg North Quay Rd, Custom House Quay, Westwey Rd) and raise nine sections (eg Commercial Rd, Cove Row, Nothe Parade).
Esplanade sea defence – 2020 to 2035
This helps reduce flood and erosion risks. It is important develop these defences to protect against wave overtopping for the low-lying areas of the town situated behind the esplanade.
The council plans to repair the Greenhill section sea wall foundation (2020-2025). In the second phase, this will be followed by improvement works to the Greenhill section sea wall with associated promenade works (2034-2035).
Current beach management activities, such as the recycling of sand and reprofiling of the beach will continue. This delays more expensive and significant works in a cost-effective way, as the beach absorbs the impact of the waves and reduces damage to the promenade and esplanade.
Harbour walls (general) – 2020 to 2027
A further 2km of harbour walls provide limited flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCRM) benefit but are essential for the overall functioning of the harbour and so are included within the strategic approach.
The council plans to replace four sections of peninsula walls between 2020-2027.
The plan allows for the review of many factors as it progresses, including rates of climate change, asset deterioration and changes in spatial planning needs and requirements.
A similar strategy for Lyme Regis is also in place, and plans are being drawn up for Swanage and other areas similarly affected.
Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for economic growth, assets and property, Cllr Tony Ferrari, said, “This is a hugely exciting and ambitious strategy that deals with the effects of climate change and helps protect the future of Weymouth. It will see record amounts of investment in coastline defences and I strongly encourage everyone to read the document so they can see what is planned.
“As Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for assets – with a special Cabinet responsibility for the regeneration and development of Weymouth – I am uniquely placed and very proud to bring forward this scheme. Next step is to get everything in place to govern and manage the various projects proposed and continue to work closely with the Environment Agency to secure funding.
“I’d like to thank the many agencies that have been involved in the studies that helped us devise this strategy that, when implemented, will cement Weymouth’s reputation as a safe and attractive place to work and visit.”
The full strategy has been published on the Dorset Council website and can be found here: www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/weymouth-flood-strategy. It will be taken to Cabinet on the evening of 6 October 2020.
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