Funds in place for study to protect Staithes from North Sea for next 100 years

The Environment Agency has awarded Scarborough Borough Council a total of �100,000 in order to develop a long-term strategy to protect the coastal village of Staithes from the ravages of the North Sea. Picture by Marisa Cashill.
The Environment Agency has awarded Scarborough Borough Council a total of �100,000 in order to develop a long-term strategy to protect the coastal village of Staithes from the ravages of the North Sea. Picture by Marisa Cashill.
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An extensive study to identify how the historic fishing village of Staithes should be protected from the ravages of the North Sea for the next century is expected to be given the go-ahead by councillors next week.

The decision-making cabinet body at Scarborough Borough Council will be told that the Environment Agency has awarded £100,000 to the authority so that it can prepare a coastal defence strategy for the beauty spot.

Staithes lies on the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast and is famed for its links with the explorer and navigator Captain James Cook who spent his youth living and studying in the quaint village.

Popular with tourists, thousands of visitors are attracted to the pretty seaside village every year but it remains at the mercy of an often aggressive sea.

In 2013, the 42-mile coastline between Staithes in the north and Speeton Cliffs in the south was hit by the worst tidal surge for 60 years.

The coastline is defended by a combination of natural and man-made structures already, with defences at Staithes comprised of large stone blocks along its harbour walls, however a full range of options are expected to be considered as part of any new strategy to make sure the village can cope with the brunt of the North Sea for the next 100 years.

In a report to the council’s cabinet members which will be considered at a meeting next Tuesday, Stewart Rowe, the authority’s principal coastal officer, says: “The strategy will seek to better understand the issues, identify and shortlist options, describe the cost and benefits of options for future management of the coastal defence assets in Staithes.

“Once completed this will allow the council to seek funding from the Environment Agency to carry out any necessary capital schemes on behalf of the community.”

Local ward councillor John Nock welcomed the proposal. He said: “It’s fantastic news and just what the village needs.”

Should an initial study be signed off next week, a consultant would be appointed to develop the strategy. The consultant would study the risks to Staithes from sea flooding and coastal erosion, and it would take into account projected sea level rises.

As reported in The Yorkshire Post in October, the Government’s climate advisors warned that by 2080, rising sea levels could threaten as many as 1.5 million properties in England as a result of coastal flooding and erosion.

Cliff stability will also be assessed if the Staithes study is commissioned by Scarborough Borough Council. In August last year, nine-year-old Harriet Forster from Oxford was killed by a falling rock while playing on the beach in the village.

As any new strategy is drawn up, it would also explore management, economic, environmental and “socially acceptable” options for aspects of any proposed coastal protection work.

An extensive consultation would involve the community and a range of agencies and organisations including The Crown Estates, Yorkshire Water, Natural England, English Heritage, the North York Moors National Park Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, the National Trust and Durham University.

The final strategy is intended to be presented back to Scarborough Council’s cabinet in November 2020.