The real threat posed by the sea

LAST week's storms are a timely reminder of the real threat to Weston from the sea and the utter foolishness of the present plan to build a second wall

LAST week's storms are a timely reminder of the real threat to Weston from the sea and the utter foolishness of the present plan to build a second wall on the edge of the promenade.Just imagine the havoc that would have been caused to central Weston had those storms coincided with a high tide. This is the very scenario we should be planning to protect the town from.Anyone who believes that a five feet high wall just a few metres inland from the present sea wall will offer any such protection is seriously deluded. We are not talking about water slopping over the present sea wall and being trapped on the promenade before being allowed to drain back into the sea as the tide goes out. We are talking about high tides with storm surges behind them with possibly mountainous waves coming over the sea wall and spray anything up to 50ft high which will clear the proposed new wall and render it entirely redundant.This is not an exaggeration. Last week we saw winds of up to 90mph or more. Anyone who cannot imagine the effect of such winds on a high tide in Weston is living in cloud cuckoo land. I am totally persuaded by those who have more experience of the sea than I do, especially those with an engineering background, and I am appalled at the poor calibre of district councillors who represent us and who have made the current decision to go ahead with the proposed additional wall. I attended the west area committee meeting in December and, along with other interested parties present, was disgusted at the poor quality of debate and the pathetic reasons put forward for going ahead with the proposed wall. The only good thing to come out of that session was the call for a named vote. At least the names of the councillors concerned are now in the public domain. I am convinced that the only real protection from the danger that lurks out in the bay is a scheme that will take or largely reduce the energy in the waves before they come far enough in to overwhelm today's sea defences. To my mind, that involves the construction of a marina. From 2000-2005, the Conservative-led Weston Town Council began to promote the idea of a marina - not as a sea defence but from a regeneration point of view. Weston is almost the only town on this side of the Bristol Channel without a marina. The vast majority of towns along the Welsh coast have marinas. We consulted marina builders and other professional bodies. All agreed that a Weston marina would be popular and bring huge benefits to the town - especially at the north end which is crying out for regeneration. We spent £8,000 on surveys of parts of the sea bed off the Marine Lake.However, when the Lib Dems became the majority group in May 2003, the first thing they did was to pour scorn on the project and announce they were discontinuing it. I am delighted that they are now showing keen interest in the concept. Better late than never. A marina could incorporate the breakwater that is the ONLY realistic solution to the problem of inundation by the sea. The present sea wall is quite adequate for the majority of high tides and would continue to protect us from those backed up by a storm surge if the energy in the waves has been dissipated out in the bay.I fear that the proposed wall will go ahead and will then prove to be ineffective when put to the test. At that point - since it is there already - the decision will be taken to make it even higher. Can you imagine what that would look like? CLLR JOHN LEY-MORGAN - Weston Town Council, Grove House

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