Wednesday, 25 November 2015

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Cash secured to shore up storm-battered Cumbrian harbour

Cash has been secured to carry out urgent repairs to Whitehaven’s storm-battered harbour – and work will begin on Monday.

Celia Mackenzie photo
Celia Mackenzie

Severe damage was caused in December when violent waves crashed into the harbour, bringing down walls, uplifting paving slabs and destroying buildings.

When the scale of damage became clear, the owners of the harbour revealed they had no cash to carry out much-needed repairs and as a result parts of the harbour would be closed.

Now, thanks to £324,000-worth of funding from the Environment Agency, work will start to repair the harbour’s flood defences, including the Old Quay wall.

Celia Mackenzie, chief executive of The Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners, said that work is scheduled to be complete at the end this month or early next .

She added that the commissioners have worked for many years with the Environment Agency in order to protect the town from “inundation” from the sea within the harbour.

“The Environment Agency, having viewed the structural damage, have agreed to provide funds for the restoration of the flood defence scheme,” she said.

“The Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners’ are delighted with the support and the speed at which the Environment Agency have provided the funding and the technical support.”

The money for repairs has been secured from a £130 million emergency funding announcement by the government, to aid the flood relief effort and repair damaged defences.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said that December’s severe storm, coupled with one of the highest spring tides of the year, caused “unprecedented” structural damage to the harbour, and in particular the Old Quay which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

“Repairs to the structure are urgent as additional storms would create further damage to an already weakened structure, compromising the towns flood defence system,” he added.

Copeland Council’s director of services, Pat Graham, said the authority was “pleased” to support the harbour commissioners to secure the money.

“The harbour is a historic monument and an absolutely integral part of our town,” she added. “It actually stood up remarkably well to such destructive storms but it’s great news for our colleagues at the Harbour Commission that it will be repaired and both visitors and locals will be able to enjoy this beautiful area once again.

The cash announcement follows a week of debate where flood-hit areas of the north – including Cumbria – have been critical of the open cheque book given to those places devastated by winter flooding in the south of the country.


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