Wednesday 17 January 2018

Over €6m to fix storm damage

WITH 275 kilometres of coastline, 30 significant beaches and 11 piers or harbours, Wexford is constantly at the mercy of the waves.

County council engineers have been totting up a preliminary estimate of what it will cost to repair the damage caused by recent storms.

Their best estimate comes to a sum of more than €6 million, with more bills to come as fresh storms lash the already weakened shore.

The figure does not include the €890,000 sought to put New Ross right after the recent floods there, because the town's troubles fall to a different budget.

The battering has caused part of the pier in Courtown to crack and drop off into the sea while the quay in Kilmore has required emergency measure to head off further damage.

Officials recognise that Duncannon has been suffering on all fronts, its beach depleted, its cliffs eroded and its harbour in a mess.

The engineering team of Eddie Taaffe, Gerry Forde and John Lambe, along with harbour master Philip Murphy, had no firm news for councillors last week of how much Government money will be available to deal with the coastal crisis.

Their calculations suggest that it will require millions to deal with harbours, roads and the busiest of beaches, with no prospect of anything in the kitty for farmland, which comes down the pecking order.

In response, Cllr. Padge Reck reckons that devoting all of the county council's resources to coastal protection from now until the year 2024 would not suffice to solve the all problems.

In the mean time, the engineers have drawn up their wish list for more immediate action:

* Kilpatrick €500,000: The North Wexford beach requires extra rock armour and the reinstatement of a road which provides access to the beautiful strand.

* Courtown to the Burrow €1 million: The waves have worked a way over the existing rock armour which stands in need of repair, importing hefty new rock

* Courtown blue flag beach €1 million: Again, the rock armour needs to be repaired and strengthened.

* Courtown coast road €10,000: The road has been under cut by erosion and needs to be strengthened.

* Courtown harbour €500,000: The structure of the pier needs work without delay. The €500,000 quoted is only a down payment, with a further €700,000 needed in the longer term. Cllr Robbie Ireton felt that a dog-leg redesign of the south pier would make the harbour safe.

* Cahore harbour €50,000: The pier itself needs some work but the principal expense in the offing is for rock armour.

* Ballinamona €50,000: To the north, Poulshone has largely escaped serious damage, while Morriscastle beach is not as sandy as it used to be, but Ballinamona has been left in a truly sorry state. The sea has been working to undermine the rock armour and the access ramp has been wrecked.

* Wexford harbour €10,000: Buoys have been washed away and need replacement.

* St. Helen's €500,000: Rosslare Strand is a by word for coastal erosion but 30 years of investment kept the storms of 2013/4 at bay (fingers crossed). This time the main problems have been experienced instead around the corner at St. Helen's where there is a crying need for protection to ensure that the golf course remains playable. Officials also note that farm land in St. Margaret's has been eaten away, victim to the receding shoreline.

* St. Helen's pier €51,000: Most of the money is needed to install coastal rock armour. Work is also needed to remove rocks from channels.

* Carne pier €15,000: Some structural repairs are needed.

* Seaview (Bastardstown) near Kilmore Quay €500,000: The coast needs new rock armour and a road has been rendered unsafe.

* Kilmore Quay €430,000: The county's busiest fishing port requires a programme rocks and concrete tetrapods to keep the facility safe. Officials are concerned that the rock armour has been breached leaving the harbour exposed, though immediate efforts are being made to repair the problem.

* Fethard €10,000: Repairs to the pier are needed.

* Duncannon strand €500,000: 'Duncannon has taken a woeful battering,' commented senior engineer Gerry Forde as he recommended half a million euro worth of protection for the famous beach. He indicated that the area is top priority. Cllr. Michael Sheehan suggested that local interests, including businesses and kite surfers, should be consulted about the work.

* Duncannon pier €275,000: The pier surface is worn out and some work is due to be carried out on the structure.

* Ballyhack €50,000: The structure requires some attention and ferry fenders are due to be replaced.

Officials have stressed that the figures - grand total €6,274,000 - compiled and presented so far are preliminary.

They would like to commission a more rigorous structural survey of all Wexford piers and harbours at a cost of at least €60,000 to check their state of health and firm up the estimates for repairs.

The council is also aware that fresh problems have arisen since they carried out their assessment. Clones Road, Dodds Rocks and Courtown harbour in the north were all mentioned in this regard, along with Kilmore Quay and, yet again, luckless Duncannon.

Gorey Guardian

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