Funding for sea defences welcomed
Critical sea defences at Old Colwyn are to get a cash boost but critics say it is not enough to prevent a catastrophe.
Clwyd West AM Darren Millar welcomed yesterday’s news that the Welsh Government will be investing £1.6m to improve the sea defences on Old Colwyn promenade.
Last month the council called for a summit to deal with the Welsh Government, Dwr Cymru and Network Rail over the state of the crumbling defences.
Repairs are needed to the 1.2km stretch of coastal defences from Porth Eirias to Cliff Gardens which have been described as “failing” in a report to members.
Councillors fear that if a major storm took out the defences the rail line, A55 and water infrastructure would have to be shut, crippling the North Wales economy.
The cost of repairing the defences range from £2million for smaller repairs to about 400m of the wall to £36million for a full set of works on the whole stretch.
Mr Millar said: “The cash falls well short of the overall total needed for a significant upgrade to the sea defences in Old Colwyn, but it is welcome none the less.
“The sea defences along Old Colwyn promenade play a vital role in protecting the main sewerage network, the A55 trunk road and the North Wales railway line. They have been in a very delicate state for over a decade and we’ve been warned time and time again by engineers that they are at risk of catastrophic failure at any time.
“We’ve been living on borrowed time and as another winter approaches, I know residents and businesses in the area have been very concerned as to whether the defences could survive another storm. News of this funding will therefore help put their minds at rest.
“Now that the funding has been agreed, work needs to start as soon as possible to ensure that Old Colwyn is no longer at risk.”
Colwyn county councillor, Cheryl Carlisle, added: “My constituents have been very concerned about the sea defences in Old Colwyn for many years, so I know they will be as pleased as I am to hear of this funding from the Welsh Government. I will be working with colleagues at Conwy County Borough Council to see improvements delivered and look forward to the work finally getting underway.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We recognise the importance of robust sea defences at Old Colwyn Bay which are key to protecting infrastructure and utility networks. In this Assembly term we will invest £350m in Flood and Coastal Risk management programmes, with funding prioritised according to risk to life and towards the communities most at risk.
“We have now invested another £1.6m in the Old Colwyn Promenade as part of the £14.5m investment in active travel schemes across Wales. This specific scheme will improve active travel facilities as well as coastal defence. We have been working closely with the local authority and a number of other partners to ensure the scheme is as effective as possible.”
By Shane Brennan – Local Democracy Reporter
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