Eyesore sea wall could be higher

A CONTROVERSIAL flood defence wall planned for Weston's promenade could be three feet higher than expected, it has emerged this week

A CONTROVERSIAL flood defence wall planned for Weston's promenade could be three feet higher than expected, it has emerged this week.The Environment Agency (EA) has questioned why North Somerset Council's proposed wall, measuring 1-1.5m, should not be made bigger.Hoteliers in the town are being asked to send letters to the council supporting the wall height and saying why a larger one would be unpopular.Top EA and council officials met to discuss the matter last week. Members of the EA's national technical panel asked the council to come up with reasons why the wall should not be made bigger to cope with larger storms at little extra cost.But North Somerset Council's lead officer on the project, Rachel Lewis, told the Weston & Somerset Mercury that a bigger wall is unacceptable and would not be built.She said: "The EA is not saying we must build it bigger, they are saying we could and it would accept a bigger wall if we proposed one."They would look for us to be raising it in the order of two-three feet. The council would find that unacceptable."We haven't proposed the height of the wall arbitrarily. We haven't wanted to block views of the sea for bars and hotels and chosen that level which provides protection against a one in 200 storm."We are now going to provide justification for our scheme from various sources like letters we have received, minutes and internal memos to say that the height we are proposing is appropriate."Ms Lewis said sticking to a 1-1.5m wall would not jeopardise EA funding for sea defences.An agency spokesman said the Weston scheme was well received by its panel, but it had asked for a number of minor modifications. He said the agency did not want to reveal any further details.A council delegation is due to return to London to report back to the EA next week.The council has asked the Weston Hotels and Restaurants' Association to write in support of the scheme and to stress that a higher wall would be unpopular. The association has already given its backing to the scheme in the absence of any other sea defence proposals.Owners of bars and hotels between Knightstone Island and the Winter Gardens reacted angrily to the council's sea defence plans, saying they would create a 'Berlin wall' between them and tourists. Members of Weston Town Council's planning committee also attacked the plans and rejected them at their last meeting. The plans are due to be considered by North Somerset councillors soon.