Is the Spa to be protected by armour?

Sea defences reinforced by either rock armour or concrete steps
Sea defences reinforced by either rock armour or concrete steps

HERE are two possible ways in which crumbling sea defences around Scarborough’s historic Spa Complex could be reinforced – rock armour or a stepped concrete slope.

The images used here have been produced as part of a report which will be discussed by Scarborough Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday.

sea wall

sea wall

Members are due to consider six options put forward by engineers in order to protect the coast in that area.

But the Sons of Neptune is opposed to both schemes and has claimed that the existing sea walls just need renovating and maintaining.

Members commissioned a report by a leading maritime expert which showed that tidal flow in South Bay is less aggressive than that in North Bay – because the Castle Headland absorbs the majority of the energy and it has a gentle sloping seabed.

Freddie Drabble, one of the group’s founding members, said: “In our opinion the placing of either rock armour or concrete against the Spa Wall is an environmental outrage to the scene of natural beauty which this town has enjoyed and commercially benefited from since it first became a holiday resort.

“Is this scenic value now to be tossed aside? Would York Minster be enclosed with a concrete wall to prevent erosion by the elements? No – it is being maintained just as the Spa wall will require maintenance from time to time.

“Can we really afford to lose 10,000 or 13,000 square metres of sand to rock armour or concrete respectively? What about buckets and spades and beach games? This is not Blackpool where the sands run for miles and the sea is almost too far for kids to get to when it has gone out. Once gone – it has gone for ever. The Denness report makes clear that it does not have to happen.”

Dr Bruce Denness inspected the sea walls when he visited Scarborough on Friday, November 16, and he said he believed that the existing wall had considerable life left with no need for substantial additional protection.

Cllr Andrew Backhouse, the council’s portfolio holder for coastal and flood defences, said he was aware that the four-page report had been received and will be considered alongside the officers’ recommendations.

He added that tough decisions needed to be taken and doing nothing was “not an option” because the deteriorating condition of the existing sea walls – which were built in the 1840s – was making them unstable.

He said: “It plays a key role in the stability of the cliff behind, supporting the toe of the cliff and preventing its erosion and over-steepening, which would inevitably lead to large scale landslips. It’s clear the existing coastal defences at the Spa are approaching the end of their life, despite ongoing maintenance and repair.”

He added that cliff area behind the Spa Complex was already prone to landslides which had the potential to endanger the building and associated sea walls – leading to further coastal erosion and landsliding.

These are the six shortlisted options from the report which will be considered on Tuesday:

Option 1: do nothing – no further work will be undertaken and the condition of the defences would deteriorate over time, resulting in eventual failure

Option 2: do minimum – continue with the current management regime. This includes repairs and maintenance to coastal defences including repointing, filling of breaches and rebuilding of failed sections of defences to extend their effective life and reduce chance of failure. It does not address the risks created by wave overtopping or over steepened slopes, nor would it create confidence for future investment in the town’s tourism infrastructure

Option 3: rock armour with a high wave wall – improve the defences by placing rocks in front of the existing sea wall. A new wave wall would be built with a height of 1.4m above walkway level

Option 4: rock armour with a medium height wave wall – the officers’ preferred option. Improve the defences by placing rocks in front of the existing sea wall. A new wave wall would be built with a height of 1.1m above walkway level

Option 5: rock armour with a low height wave wall – improve the defences by placing rock in front of the existing sea wall. A new wave wall would be built with a height of 0.6m above walkway level and topped by a handrail to increase the barrier to the minimum requirement of 1.1m according to building regulations

Option 6: concrete stepped slope with a 1.4m wave wall. Improve the defences by building a concrete stepped slope in front of the existing sea wall with a 1.4m wave wall at the crest of the slope. This option was added to the shortlist as an alternative material to rock armour – a similar scheme has been praised in Weston-Super-Mare.