Sunday 10 October 2021

Carmarthenhire Council ingnores Loughor Estuary environmental risk, building homes in harm's way - a guest post from Robin Burn

"A coastal vulnerability and environmental risk assessment of Loughor Estuary, South wales" Robin Burn reviews an article published in 2015 by the University of Wales, Trinity St, Davids,Swansea warning of the reckless development of areas under risk of present and future flooding. I doubt Carmarthenshhire County Council Planners, both officers and councillors, keep up to date with accademiic studies. Ocean & Coastal Management 116 (2015) 478-490 K.Denner et al ; Coastal & Marine Research Group, University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Swansea),Swansea,Wales,SA1 6ED ; 15th September 2015. Article Review Comment from Abstract An environmental risk assessment of the Loughor Estuary northern shoreline-South Wales, was carried out by adapting a previously developed Coastal Vulnerability Index. "Assessments identified that the most critical parameters affecting vulnerability along this shoreline, were coastal slope and beach width. Results highlighted that this shoreline was vulnerable and that a significant percentage of residential housing, transport and energy supply infrastructure, are located in highly vulnerable locations". It was also noted that there is a concentration of future re-development in similarly vulnerable locations In Introduction the report acknowledges that esturine environments are low-lying fragile coastal ecosystems sensitive by nature to climatic variations. Low -lying coastal areas more vulnerable to climatic impacts and as a result are at a greater risk of flooding and coastal erosion. Easterly drift of sediment and fine sand is accreting the estuary, requiring regular harbour dredging. In the Discussion section of the paper, the authors assess the crux of the investigations acknowledging that" Identification of socio-economic and ecological features wholly or partially occuring in areas of high vulnerability showed that a high percentage of infrastructure related to transport and access and energy supply are located in high vulnerability areas. The majority of residential housing within 500meters of Median Water Height, the area most likely to flood, occurs in very vulnerable areas with little protection. Flooding is already the major issue impacting the study area with Llanelli recording the highest risk of present and future flooding. The addition of new development upon previously developed sites in areas of high vulnerability will increase pressure upon drainage and sewage systems leading to an even greater risk of flooding in the estuary. Almost 80% of coastal land designated for future development occured in areas of high vulnerability. Of the coastal defence structures located in the study area to protect current assets and infrastructure,35% have less than a 20 year lifespan remaining, all of the structures have less than 50 years of longevity left The only available report detailing costs of maintaining defensive structures at the two locations with the highest vulnerability was produced in 2004 and they were estimated to exceed the entire regional coastal defence budget by a factor of 10. The ability of the local authority to defend these structures has been questioned. The lack of knowledge of coastal processes when planning as part of the Regeneration strategy for the study area, has previously led to erosion and flooding potential to new developments. It can be reasoned that the LA's locating of of future infrastructure and development in coastal areas, despite recognisable vulnerability to flooding and coastal erosion, in the face of climate change, reveals a propensity to favour short term economic gain from coastal real estate and investment opportunities Robin Burn I Eng FIMMM 22nd August 2021 picture: asbestos sheeting exposed by the erosion October 7th
Update: High Tides on October 7th caused considerable coastal erosion near Burry Port at the site of the demolished Carmarthen Bay Power Station. What has been exposed is large amounts buried asbestos containing roofing sheets. Other debris may also be toxic, inclding some bright green blocks of material I have not seen before. When I accidently touched one of these it did irritate my skin quite quickly and I had to wash my hand promptly to stop the "burnng" senstion. There is a photograph here showing one of the green blocks, Does anyone know what they are? Copper Arsenite has been suggested to me but I'm no expert.
Sian Caiach

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