By Andy Hargreaves

Porthloo sea defences. Photo by Blackwell Building Services.

Porthloo sea defences. Photo by Blackwell Building Services.

The Council is hoping to secure grant money to strengthen some of the islands’ sea defences.

Most of the money will come from a European fund for improving resilience of dunes identified as vulnerable, to safeguard key structures and commercial properties.

Under the scheme dunes at Porthmellon would be shored up to defend the industrial estate, as that area is below sea level.

The work would also help prevent flooding of some homes and the new workspaces on the former wholesalers site.

The height of a 100m length of dunes at Porthloo would be increased at a cost of £210,000. It would be replanted with couch and maram grass to protect the road, boat park and some residential properties.

Work to protect Trench Lane and the Old Town electricity sub station would include removing silt from the drainage channels.

There would also be dune stabilisation at Porthellick on St Mary’s and at Periglis on St Agnes, to guard the Island Hall and the island’s sewage system bio bubble.

On Tresco the dunes that stand in front of the electricity substation and also the area around Long Point Quay would receive attention.

Cllr Colin Daly asked Senior Manager Diana Mompoloki why the dunes on St Martin’s were not being singled out for attention.

Diana said the consultants’ study showed those dunes were “in really good nick” and don’t require any work because St Martin’s is protected by the other islands.

Cllr Marian Bennett was concerned that Bryher was also at risk but this project didn’t propose work there either, which she felt was vital.

Marian said that February 2014 flooding revealed a “great potential for cutting the island in two.” And she warned that when the rock armour at Popplestones was put in place, it was given an estimated lifespan of 40 years and time was slipping away.

Diana explained that Bryher isn’t in this work programme because it has hard sea defences and this cash can only be spent on improving dunes.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said he was concerned by the coastal flooding risk on St Mary’s and he felt the Planning committee should act to stop building in areas that could flood.

He said sea levels are likely to rise within the lifetime of younger island residents and asked Chief Planner Craig Dryden whether there could be ban on building in areas susceptible to it.

Craig told councillors there are many factors to consider in planning applications, including the size and scale of developments, and it is hard to devise a blanket policy.

Cllr Gaz O’Neill said the Council, “should leap at the opportunity” to improve sea defences.

Diana will submit a bid for £710,000 from the EU funds.

The entire project will cost around £900,000, and will include employing a new Senior Manager for Natural Resources to manage the work, but she warned that the costs of the six-year scheme might change.