Sea defence catastrophic failure fears for Old Colwyn

Sea defence catastrophic failure fears for Old Colwyn

The risk of “catastrophic failure” in sea defences on a stretch of north Wales coast still remains despite work carried out, a council has warned.

Some improvements to the seawall at Old Colwyn were completed this year.

However, Conwy councillors said the work was a “sticking plaster solution” until a £34m scheme is complete.

The Welsh Government has allocated £6m to the scheme and said the local authority would “monitor and inspect” the wall after every storm.

Ministers had already allocated £1.6m to improve the defences last year, before the further £6m from its Resilient Roads Funds in June this year.

The latest money will be used to install rock armour at the most vulnerable sections of the defences, as well as improve beach access.

However, an update shared with the Conwy and Denbighshire Public Services Board, which meets on Monday, said there still remains significant sections where the defences are at high risk of failure.

“Until the full scheme is implemented the risk of catastrophic failure of the current defences remains significant,” notes the document, which dates from August.

“To this end, we are continuing to discuss potential funding options with [Welsh Government] to secure the funding for the full scheme.”

Detailed designs for the full scheme, which would see a 1.2km stretch of coast revamped, are expected to be published “in due course”.

The total would cost £34m, including work already done, and some further funding has been secured.

Councillors Cheryl Carlisle and Brian Cossey, who both represent the Colwyn ward, welcomed the government investment so far, but added it was a “sticking plaster solution to the overall issue”.

They warned that a breach could have “catastrophic consequences” and that the full £34m scheme must be implemented.

In a statement, they said: “This will then protect not just the promenade and its road but the Welsh Water trunk sewer, the main railway line to Holyhead and the A55 Expressway, all of which will be at risk if the existing sea defence fails.”

A spokesperson for Conwy council said it was working with Welsh Water to secure further funding and also “pursuing opportunities with other partners”.

The scheme, they added, was “likely to be delivered in phases due to the size of project”, with the contract for the forthcoming improvements having gone out to tender.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We’ve allocated over £6 million to Conwy Council this financial year towards the scheme. For sections not under construction, the local authority have committed to increase monitoring and inspection of the wall after every storm.”

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