North Wales politicians have raised concerns about the safety of flood defences in Old Colwyn. Engineers have warned that the Old Colwyn promenade is at risk of collapse if the region is hit by another severe storm.
While the promenade was temporarily closed due to bad weather last week, it’s precarious state is fuelling greater transport concerns because it runs adjacent to the A55, and to a railway line – should flood defences fail, there are concerns that this could seriously disrupt transport across North Wales.
Journalist Ian Lang shared a video on social media showing just how bad the situation was last Sunday, with waves overwhelming cars driving along the promenade, amid reports that sea spray was also hitting the nearby North Wales Expressway.
Engineers warn that Old Colwyn prom is at risk of collapse. It protects the economy of North West Wales. This was just the first winter storm. @kenskatesam #Welshgovernment #networkrail #welshwater #coastaldefence #flood #wales #colwynbay #conwy #flooding pic.twitter.com/oShLRw0aAe
— Ian Lang (@IanLangITVWales) January 27, 2019
Conwy County Borough Councillor (CCBC) Cheryl Carlisle, Old Colwyn ward, told North Wales Pioneer that each storm could be the prom’s last:
Mrs Carlisle said:
“The weekend showed just how vulnerable the Old Colwyn end of the promenade can be. Each storm could be its last.
“On the weekend there was spray right over on to the A55 and the bank holding up the railway is already crumbling and is very fragile.”
Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar has called on the First Minister to take urgent action, saying:
“We had some very stormy weather over the weekend which further undermined the sea defences in Old Colwyn, in my constituency. The situation was dangerous with cars trying to drive along the promenade at serious risk of being washed into the sea. The Old Colwyn defences protect vital railway infrastructure and the A55 trunk road, both of which are vital to the North Wales economy.
“We’ve been warned time and time again by engineers that the defences are at risk of catastrophic failure at any time. We’re living on borrowed time and I urge you to invest in the defences so we can see them upgraded before lives are lost.”
Darren has also raised the matter with the Environment Minister, Lesley Griffiths AM, expressing his concern “that there has been little progress in addressing the need for significant improvements”.
While the Welsh Government have invested more than £16 million through the flood and coastal defences programme towards phase one and two at Porth Eirias and Rhos-on-Sea, a spokesman said there had been no agreement to fund works to Old Colwyn, telling North Wales Pioneer:
“Whilst there have been ongoing discussions with the local authority about funding this scheme, due to the third party beneficiaries, it has been explained that they will need to obtain significant contributions from these asset owners.
“We have advised Conwy County Borough Council that the aims of our flood and coastal risk management funding is focussed on reducing risk from flooding and coastal erosion to home and businesses.”
The cost of the repairs are estimated to be £35 million. However, as many commentators sharing the social media video point out, the cost to the North Wales economy, and to life, should the prom collapse could be much higher.
Image credit: Daily Post. Video Credit: Ian Lang