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Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group

Challenge of the Rising Sea

15th October 2010

Saundersfoot: one of the areas threatened by rising sea levels

Challenge of the Rising Sea

          At their recent meeting Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group were delighted to welcome Richard Ellis Head Warden of the National Trust in Pembrokeshire, as their guest speaker. It was particularly appropriate that his visit should coincide with the publication of the new Shoreline Management Plan for the South Wales coast. This outlines the manner in which Local Authorities will respond to the inevitability of continually rising sea levels over the coming years.

          Richard pointed out that though some still chose to doubt the reality of sea level rise, clear evidence from harbour data collected from around the world, showed conclusively that sea levels were rising. In fact only one port seemed to buck this trend – Helsinki. Experts were puzzled. Then it was realised that global warming had resulted in the thawing of the Tundra and the melting of ice in northern latitudes. This resulted in a great reduction in weight on the land and in consequence the land was rising even more rapidly than sea level!

          Worldwide an increase in sea level of 20 cms over the past one hundred years was clearly discernible. By the end of the century an increase of one metre was now confidently predicted. Add to this increased storm frequency and intensity which have also been predicted and the result will be increased wave height and extreme flooding – yet another consequence of global warming.

          In 2004 the National Trust carried out a detailed risk assessment of NT property in Wales. This was updated in 2008. Some of the 'hot spots' in Pembrokeshire included Stackpole, Newgale, Abereiddy and Mwnt. But perhaps more fascinating was the future of the Bosherton Lily Ponds and Broadhaven beach. The creation of the lakes over one hundred years ago had a profound effect on the contiguous coastline. Where there had once been simply a long inlet from the sea now nature (with the help of the dammed lakes) produced a beautiful, extensive sandy beach, so well known to many a holiday-maker. However the porosity of the bedrock of the lakes coupled with the rising sea levels put the future of both the lakes and the beach in doubt. The probability is that this area will once again become an inlet of the sea.

          In all these areas future possibilities will include re-wilding the coast, moving infrastructure inland and allowing large tidal saltmarsh and bays to form.

          Richard then discussed the current Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) which brings together PCC, PCNP, the Environment Agency and many other stakeholders. The various policy options are related to three clearly defined epochs, short (0 - 20 years), medium (21 – 50 years) and long (51 – 100 years). Locally Amroth and parts of other coastal settlements are vulnerable and active intervention beyond the medium term is not planned.

          The Chair thanked Richard for giving a fascinating and informative insight into the implications of rising sea levels and the meeting continued with a wide-ranging discussion on this topic. Many references were made to the sections of the SMP that applied to south east Pembrokeshire in particular to the following:-

          “At Amroth, Wiseman’s Bridge and between Wiseman’s Bridge and Coppet Hall existing defences will be maintained (through a policy of hold the line) for as long as possible (short to medium term) depending on their current condition followed by a reversion to natural processes through no active intervention. At Saundersfoot the short and medium term policy is to hold the line by maintaining existing defences to manage the risk of coastal erosion for as long as is sustainable and affordable. Subject to further detailed investigation, consultation and the future availability of funding the long term policy for Saundersfoot may be managed realignment which could involve the provision of flood resilience measures for properties, assets and infrastructure in the centre of Saundersfoot and abandonment of properties and assets in areas such as the Strand. Private funding could be used to maintain/ upgrade existing defences, subject to obtaining the necessary consents, licences and approvals. At Tenby existing defences will be maintained (and upgraded, subject to the future availability of public funding for coastal erosion and flood risk management) through a policy of hold the line, which will continue to manage coastal erosion and flood risk to this residential settlement. The dunes at The Burrows/ Tenby South Beach will be allowed to function naturally through managed realignment, which will enable dune management to be undertaken to reduce the risk of a breach in the dunes, which could lead to flooding of the low-lying hinterland.” (SMP 2010)

          Members were surprised and concerned to discover so many properties would be at risk.

          The meeting continued with confirmation of Neil Sefton as Vice Chairman, the acceptance of the Treasure’s report and details of events attended by PSEEG members. Prominent among these was the visit to the Canaston Bridge Abstraction Plant and Bolton Hill Water Treatment Works organised for the members by the Darwin Centre. Members wished to record their thanks to Marten Lewis, Director of the Centre.

          Progress was reported on the study being conducted by the renewable energy consultants Dulas on the possibility of a community wind turbine project for south east Pembrokeshire. It was anticipated that a suitable site would soon be identified. Details of this would soon be available on their newly created website (pseeg.org.uk). Thanks were given to Philip Wathen, the Group's Technical Officer, for his work in setting up this site.

          The meeting concluded with the announcement that the speaker at the next meeting will be Jo Horsely from Environment Wales. Jo will be describing and explaining the energy saving changes made by the National Trust at their properties. The meeting will take place at the Regency Hall Saundersfoot on Thursday 21st October at 7 p.m. All members of the public are cordially invited to attend.


Past Articles
10th August 2010The beautiful Welsh coastline: Response to possible rising sea levels
18th June 2010Visit to Costain at Canaston Bridge: Not Costing the Earth
16th April 2010Feed in Tariffs: Power to the People
12th March 2010Heat Pumps & Photo Voltaic Panels: Prepare for the Goodlife
12th February 2010Parliamentary Candiates at Green Question Time in Saundersfoot
15th January 2010Weather & Climate: A Question of Energy
4th December 2009Sustainable Community Ventures: Regeneration in Pembrokeshire
13th November 2009Community Initiatives: Sustainable Wales leads by example
16th October 2009Climate Change Challenge for Candidates & Micro-generation with wind turbines
2nd October 2009A Visit to Castle Pill Wind Farm: Quiet blows the wind
11th September 2009Renewable Sustainable Energy: An Energy Survey for South East Pembrokeshire
10th July 2009A talk by Lorraine Dallmeier of Infinergy: Wind Power - Pembrokeshire's Potential
12th June 2009St. Oswald's, Jeffreyston - Pembrokeshire's Beacon of Sustainability
24th April 2009Solar Panels: Three Cheers for Sunny Pembrokeshire
13th March 2009Ashton Hayes Community Energy Reduction & Hot Water From the Sun
13th February 2009Could Pembrokeshire go carbon neutral?
14th November 2008Environment Wales to provide 'Start-Up' Funding for PSEEG
17th October 2008PSEEG to become a Registered Charity

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