‘Lives may be at risk if sea defences not fixed’

Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood's Bay
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Sea defences at one of Yorkshire’s most famous seaside spots need “urgent attention” according to council officials who are recommending a detailed study is carried out ahead of a potential bid for cash to carry out repairs.

If work is not done then Robin Hood’s Bay, famous for its red-roofed cottages and quaint, narrow streets, could lose 44 properties if the sea wall which protects the historic fishing village fails and lives will be put in danger, a report warns.

When members of Scarborough Council’s cabinet meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue they will be asked to accept a £50,000 grant from the Environment Agency to carry out detailed investigations, identify future options and explore the costs and benefits. The findings of the study would then be debated in public and form the basis of any bids for cash to improve the defences.

Jim Dillon, chief executive of the authority, warns in a report prepared for members: “The sea wall currently defends 44 properties that would be lost to erosion within the next 100 years should the sea wall be left to fail.

“The concrete sea wall was installed in 1973 in order to sustain the community of Robin Hood’s Bay and is coming to the end of its design life.

“Risk to life is a concern and would be a major consequence should the wall fail.

“Considerable tourism and amenity value is associated with the seascape and landscape character of Robin Hood’s Bay,” Mr Dillon adds

The borough of Scarborough has a largely ageing coastal defence system and the works to be discussed by members of the cabinet are the latest in a long-term strategy protecting the coast from the North Sea.

Coun Mike Cockerill, the council’s cabinet member for harbours, assets, coast and flood protection, said: “Its part of the continual work that we are doing of maintenance up and down the coast.”

He said the £50,000 study, if given the green light by councillors, would allow a full investigation to be carried out and it is likely recommendations would then be made about the best way forward. It is estimated any scheme would cost around £993,000.

“We have got sea waters to erode the coastline and we have also got the rainfall that can cause cliff slides.

“We have to deal with forces above and below,” Coun Cockerill added.

Councillors will be told that initial assessments of the concrete sea wall have noted that the structure is in a “poor condition and requiring urgent attention.”

Without any action, councillors will be told there is an increasing risk of falling debris and eventually the failure of the wall.

Members of the cabinet are being urged to accept the £50,000 grant from the Environment Agency which will fully fund the study. Members of the authority will be told that backing the project does not commit the council to contributing to any possible future scheme.

Robin Hood’s Bay has had a long history of coastal erosion problems. In 1780 much of Kings Street, the original road into the village, was lost. Since 1780, over two hundred properties have been lost in the village as a consequence of cliff top erosion and movement.

Prior to the building of the 1973 sea wall, properties were being lost annually and the community lived in fear of total loss.