Calls to save Hartlepool pier due to ‘immense’ flooding risk

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has asked a Government minister to help to protect a town pier that is vital in stopping waves from crashing into coastal areas of Hartlepool.

Mr Wright said a large section of the Heugh Breakwater that protects the Headland and rest of the town from crashing North Sea waves should not be allowed to fall into the sea.

The Heugh breakwater takes a battering as easterly waves break over it.

The Heugh breakwater takes a battering as easterly waves break over it.

He raised the issue during a recent Commons debate on flooding with a Government minister from the Department for State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Mr Wright said: “The Heugh has protected much of Hartlepool from the North sea for many years.”

He said the structure stops fierce North Sea tides as they bash in against the breakwater, and ensure Hartlepool bay is as flat as a pane of glass.

Mr Wright added: “Over many years now, it has been suggested that it would be acceptable to allow the final third of the breakwater to go to rack and ruin and fall into the sea.

Tug Wilson.

Tug Wilson.

“But people whose families have lived in the area for generations and know it well say that the impact of that on sea defences and flooding risk would be immense.”

He appealed to Parliamentary Under-Secretary Rory Stewart to look at the importance of the Heugh breakwater, which is owned by PD Ports, and see what can be done to preserve it.

Nine years ago, Hartlepool Boatman’s Association collected nearly 2,000 signatures against a recommendation to remove a third of the Heugh Breakwater.

A study commissioned by Hartlepool Borough Council indicated that it would be best to create new sea defences across the area – which have been or are currently being carried out – and allow the end of the breakwater to deteriorate.

Stormy seas around the Heugh breakwater.

Stormy seas around the Heugh breakwater.

But campaigners said it could mean that storm surges affect the town’s coastline, rather than being deflected.

They also feel it could spell the end for Victoria Dock, as vessels will find it more difficult to come into harbour without the end of the breakwater.

Tug Wilson, former chairman of Hartlepool Boatman’s Association, who was part of the talks, today said: “We have probably lost 40 to 50 feet off the breakwater where it has collapsed and fallen into the sea and not repaired.

“If you allowed the final third to deteriorate it wouldn’t do the same job. It is one of the longest breakwaters in England.

“I don’t know why they don’t put it like it used to be with a promenade.

“An incredible amount of money has been spent on flood defences so why don’t they finish off the Heugh?”

In March, a £9.6m, five-year building project to strengthen the Headland’s sea defences against erosion began.

New concrete block facing and rock armour is being installed on the existing sea wall between the Heugh Gun Battery near the Heugh breakwater and Marine Drive.

The council says the work will last 100 years and protect more than 500 homes.

Mr Wright also asked the minister what further funding can be given to coastal defences in vulnerable areas of Hartlepool.

Mr Stewart said; “Flooding is one of the biggest challenges that the nation faces, and it is of immense importance.

“Coastal flooding on the east coast is particularly extreme.”

But he said the Environment Agency and the Flood Forecasting Centre have made big progress.

He said: “I am happy if honourable members want to take up those proposals and see why the Environment Agency is pursuing other technical solutions and has different views on the breakwater at Heugh.”