As a former professor of ocean engineering at Newcastle University, I was interested to read your report on the outcome of a meeting of Scarborough Council’s Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee about sea defences at the Spa Complex.
Councillors were said to have recommended that rock armour should be the preferred option to improve what the report called “crumbling” sea defences.
I recently inspected the Spa defences on behalf of the Sons of Neptune, for whom I have been a long-term consultant on various local environmental matters, and judged the existing Victorian sea wall to be essentially intact and to have many decades of serviceable life left subject to minor local repairs. That represents a calculated recommendation to do something by committing to economic repair works and should not be seen as challenging Officer Pauline Elliott’s view that “to do nothing was not an option”.
Councillor John Flinton is right to have suggested that “a contractor, if he has the choice, would prefer to build something more expensive”: that’s how they make their money.
That said, I agree that Scarborough Council should accept a grant of £290,000 from the Environment Agency to carry out appropriate ground investigations which are necessary in any case. Those investigations should also include an in-depth assessment of sea level rise expected in response to future climate change, without which it will not be possible to assess the appropriate height of any wave return wall that might need to be constructed atop the existing defences.
Dr Bruce Denness
Isle of Wight