Headland's £9.5 million sea defences suffer more damage after being battered by the sea

The quality of new multi-million sea defences on the Headland has been called into question again after suffering more damage during recent stormy weather.

Saturday, 5th October 2019, 8:00 am
The place where the stone has come out has been fenced off by Hartlepool Borough Council.
The place where the stone has come out has been fenced off by Hartlepool Borough Council.

A large block at the top of the sea wall off Marine Drive came away after being battered by the waves on Tuesday this week and also broke the metal railings on top of it.

New metal railings on a nearby newly created ramp between the promenade and the beach were also left bent and broken from the force of the sea.

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The latest damage to the wall suffered during this week's stormy weather.

Coping stones on the new ramp fell out last December and in January this year two stones at the top of the sea wall moved out of position.

Council workers have fenced off the area where the stone has come away.

Headland resident Alan Cook, 73, whose home looks out on the sea wall, said: "It just shows how inadequate these sea defences are."

He said the convex shape of the new wall does not throw the water back like the old concave wall. As a result, debris including sand, seaweed and rubbish gets thrown over the newly-laid promenade.

New metal railings on a ramp between the beach and the promenade appear to have been bent and broken by the force of the sea.

Mr Cook added: "Residents are of the same opinion as myself it's just not to the standard required to withstand the force of the sea which has been proved several times already and we haven't had a severe storm that we possibly will get through the winter when we can assume there will be even more damage."

The work over 2km (1.25 miles) of the Headland has been carried out to strengthen the sea defences against erosion and protect more than 500 homes.

Despite the problems and criticism, in June the scheme won a number of awards at the Constructing Excellence North East (CENE) Awards 2019 held in Newcastle including the Sustainability Award, the Innovation Award and the Value Award.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “This is a unique scheme which has required an innovative approach to tackling a number of engineering challenges.

“Some teething difficulties were therefore always going to be possible and we have been experiencing issues with some coping stones which had been modified with the aim of achieving the best fit on the fluctuating levels of the existing sea wall in certain places.

“We removed the majority of those modified coping stones at the start of the year and replaced them with a different design of coping stone after a couple of the modified stones came away in storm conditions. However, a small number of the modified stones were retained elsewhere on localised areas of the prom as those stones had shown no sign of movement and had been in place for over two years.

“However, in the light of Tuesday’s damage, we will now look to replace those few remaining stones with a more robust solution.

“It is important to point out that the unmodified coping stones – which cover the majority of the 2km of sea defences - have proved to be effective, including during the sea and weather conditions earlier this week and during the ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018.

“In terms of the damage to the hand rails, this is unfortunately to be expected during a storm event, whether at Hartlepool or elsewhere along the coast.

“Even prior to the sea defences scheme we would regularly have to replace hand rails, especially on more exposed areas like ramps, where railing damage has occurred this time.

“Given the fluctuating sand levels – which can change by anything up to over a metre - we are required to run the ramp railings right down and into the foreshore, which does leave them vulnerable to being damaged by the sea when hit by waves such as of the size and strength of those on Tuesday night.

“We will be replacing the damaged railings.”