A community meeting has seen representatives from the Porthtowan Beach Association, the Porthtowan Dunes Community Group, St Agnes Parish Council and Cornwall Council come together to discuss the way forward to protect the beach and dunes at Porthtowan this winter before a longer term management plan for the area is produced later this year.
The meeting was held to hear the professional advice within an independent report (which assesses changes in flood risk to 13 sites in Cornwall, including Porthtowan, due to the effects of the 2013/2014 winter storms and other interventions), to better understand the statutory responsibilities of Cornwall Council and to hear the views of each group. The independent assessment, which was carried out by Royal HaskoningDHV with help from the Environment Agency and Plymouth Coastal Observatory (PCO), recommends that the dunes at Porthtowan need to be built up and that the ridge height of the dune needs to be raised by up to one metre to reduce the risk of flooding.
At the meeting it was agreed that windblown sand on the green area behind the dune should be moved back to the dunes. It was recognised that there will be a need to stabilise the sand on the dune and reduce the risk of it blowing back onto the green or the road so it was agreed that in the short term, bundles of brush wood or bales of straw should be used as these would naturally decompose. It was agreed that vegetation such as marram grass will be planted and small areas of the dune fenced off as necessary to allow it to establish. It was also agreed that there will be signs put in place to explain what work is being carried out, and why it is necessary to protect the dune system as a means of protecting the village.
It was agreed that before the works take place, the public will have an opportunity to learn about the intended works and see examples of the material that will be used to stabilise the dune system. This early demonstration of materials will consist of a sample of each of the types of soft, decomposable materials that could be used to anchor sand. By carrying out such a demonstration the public will be able to see how they will work and the short term visual impact.
John Barrow from The Porthtowan Beach Association said: “It is very encouraging to see the community coming together, with full back up from Cornwall Council, with the common goal of dune restoration. This is a long term positive endeavour and will not be achieved overnight. However, the result will be a dune system we can all be proud of.”
Cornwall Councillor for Mount Hawke and Portreath and cabinet member for housing and environment Joyce Duffin said: “I’m pleased that the sand off the green can be used as most residents were very keen to have the green cleared. This was in the original agreed plan but did not happen. Now that this immediate action is planned, a long term way forward can be agreed and it is clear that we need to look at the whole of Porthtowan.”
The community groups and Cornwall Council will continue to work together over the coming months to put the funding in place. Cornwall Council is currently working with its service provider to agree a start date, but it is intended that the works will be completed before Easter.
Story posted 26 January 2015