Green light for sea defences

WORK will start this summer on the next part of a major sea defences project after council bosses won a multi-million pound funding boost.

Subject to planning permission, work by Hartlepool Borough Council will reduce the risk of coastal erosion to more than 440 residential properties in Seaton Carew.

It will start in late summer to reinforce the sea defences along a 2,100ft stretch of coastline from the Station Lane access ramp to the coach park.

The project – which will be carried out in two phases over late summer/autumn and spring next year – will involve removing the existing deteriorating sea wall down to the promenade level and replacing it with a stronger new seawall.

Approval for the work, and for the council’s overall strategy, has been given by the Environment Agency, which is contributing £3.5m towards the £4.3m cost of this latest phase.

The remaining funding is coming from the council, potential developers and Northumbrian Water.

The council has also been given approval from the Environment Agency for its long-term coastal defence strategy for Seaton Carew.

It is the first local authority in the North-East to receive national approval for a sea defence strategy since responsibility passed to the Environment Agency from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “The threat of rising sea levels and coastal erosion along Britain’s coastline is a serious one, and Hartlepool is no exception.

“I am therefore delighted that we will soon be able to start the next part of our coastal defence upgrade, which is a vital part of the wider regeneration of Seaton Carew.

“We are very grateful to the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water for contributing funding to enable us to carry out this important work.

“I am also very pleased that the Environment Agency has approved our long-term strategy for strengthening the rest of Seaton Carew’s sea defences – it is a big vote of confidence in our plans.”

Steve Wilkinson, North-East area coastal engineer of the Environment Agency, added: “The old seawall is in poor condition and together with the urgent works completed last year, this scheme will reduce the risk to over 440 residential properties at Seaton Carew from coastal erosion.

“Full credit goes to Hartlepool council in securing not just £3.5m in flood defence grant aid but also £800,000 in further contributions - which is a prime example of the Government’s new partnership-funding approach to help communities at risk from flooding and coastal erosion.”

The news comes shortly after the completion of a £1.5m previous phase of coastal defence improvements along the Seaton seafront from the Staincliffe Hotel to the entrance to Station Lane.

Hartlepool council’s long-term Seaton Carew sea defence strategy – which covers the total length of coastline from the Tees Estuary to Newburn Bridge – is subject to the council obtaining estimated total funding of £29m.