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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Extra cash required for storm-damaged Cumbrian harbour

A further £50,000 is needed to carry out urgent repairs to Whitehaven’s storm-battered harbour.

Whitehaven harbour photo
Substantial damage was caused during the storms

Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners are to ask for the cash on top of the £324,000 grant it has already received from the Environment Agency following December’s severe storms.

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

When the scale of the damage became clear, the harbour owners revealed they had no cash to carry out the repairs so asked the Environment Agency for help. Now this work has been complete, further investigations have found even more damage.

At today’s executive meeting, Copeland councillors will be asked to agree to apply – on behalf of the harbour commissioners – to increase the original funding from £324,000 to £374,000.

Clinton Boyce, Copeland’s legal services manager, said in a report to councillors that the initial repair works have now been completed, but additional works have become necessary.

“The Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners advise that the nose of the north wall on initial inspection was found to have a vertical crack along the line of the block courses, but on subsequent inspection on the lowest spring tides of the season, was found to penetrate the sea bed,” said Mr Boyce.

“Consequently this failure could not be catered for using the contingency in the original contract as the repairs to other parts of the structure consumed this element of the grant, as the degree of damage from the internal of the structures washed away by the storm was much greater than had been expected.”

Copeland Council, acting as an accountable body, had to apply for the original grant in March, on behalf of the harbour commissioners.

A meeting held earlier this month between the commissioners, council and Environment Agency resulted in the EA “intimating” they would approve the application for more funding, added Mr Boyce.

The work would likely to be carried out at the next available spring tide on August 13, as it is only at these times that the tidal base can be worked on.

“The council frequently supports the work being carried out by the WHC in preserving the harbour and the benefit of the community. This additional request is for essential works to be carried out,” added Mr Boyce.

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.

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