Monday 20 May 2019

Report calls for action on coastal erosion in Rosslare

The battle against the elements at Rosslare has continued over the decades, and includes the backshore protection seen here
The battle against the elements at Rosslare has continued over the decades, and includes the backshore protection seen here
The council-commissioned report from RPS Consulting Engineers

Maria Pepper

A multi-million Euro plan to tackle the urgent problem of coastal erosion in Rosslare, in order to save buildings, land and infrastructure, was outlined to councillors and members of the public at separate meetings in Wexford and Rosslare.

Wexford County Council commissioned a report from RPS Consulting Engineers which highlights the particular vulnerability of the Rosslare Strand area in the 100km stretch of the Wexford coastline that features 21 erosion zones that are most at risk.

The 14.4 kilometers study area between Rosslare Strand and Rosslare Harbour is described as a 'highly dynamic' section of coastline due to its location south of Wexford Harbour and the presence of shifting sand banks in a constant cycle of sedimentation and erosion.

It is estimated that up to a half metre of coastline is being lost every year.

Rosslare Harbour was constructed in the 1860's and Rosslare Point village and lifeboat station were abandoned in the 1920's due to erosion.

According to the report the current rate or erosion is highest is in the middle section of Rosslare beach and there are also high rates south of Rosslare village.

The western side of Rosslare Point including 18 properties, was identified as being at risk of coastal flooding, with other properties cut off during flood events.

Successful protection works were carried out between the 1950's and the 1990's but there is a need for new measures to address the continues risk of erosion and flooding.

The existing coastal defence works include timber works on the backshore, timber groynes on the foreshore from the 1950's and rock groynes from the 1990's.

Senior Council engineer Gerry Forde and coastal engineer George Colfer outlined recommendations contained in the report at a public meeting in the Community Centre in Rosslare last Wednesday night and also at a Wexford Borough District Council meeting.

The consultants have come up with two options, the second of which is favoured by the Environment Department of the Council.

The first at an estimated cost of €6.7 million is for the construction of 520 metres of rock revetments at undefended locations on the northern end of the village and rock revetments over a 2 kilometre stretch of beach from Rosslare Community Centre to south of Mauritiustown Road.

The second option, costing an estimated €5.8 million is to construct 520 metres of rock revetments at the northern end of the village with timber groynes to replace existing ones and beach nourishment, involving the importing of sand over 2 kilometres of beach from the Community Centre to Mauritiustown Road.

This would be combined with dune management including periodic maintenance as required, after storms, working with the natural environment and coastal processes to protect the shoreline along with fencing and dune construction.

To counteract flooding, the consultants recommended the construction of 1 kilometre of raised barrier or embankment at an estimated cost of €500,000 to serve as a flood barrier and to provide for sea level rises due to climate change.

Funding will be required from the OPW to cover the cost of the works which must be environmentally assessed to determine their impact on the River Slaney Valley Special Area of Conservation and the Raven Point Nature Reserve Special Protection Area for endangered and migratory birds.

An economic assessment will determine the loss to residential amenities, commercial land and recreational assets if the work is not carried out although it is considered that the benefit of carrying out the work will outweigh the cost.

Among the next steps are to secure funding for the coastal erosion project, to make a decision on the preferred option and to organised a detailed design, planning and foreshire licence applications before tendering and awarding a contract, with a view to construction in 2020/2021.

Cllr. George Lawlor commented that the cost is relatively small when the extent of the problem is considered and the 'serious impact' if the work is not done.


Railway tracks on precipice

A new report into coastal erosion in Rosslare has identified a section of clifftop railway line that is at serious risk of disappearing and will cost an 'astronomical' amount of money to protect.

The report by RPS Consulting Engineers which was commissioned by Wexford County Council has serious implications for Irish Rail which was due to be presented with a copy after the findings were outlined to members of Wexford Borough District Council.

The report identifies an area of railway line near Rosslare Harbour that is at risk of further erosion but the recommendations of the consultants do not include works to protect the tracks as that is considered a matter for Irish Rail.

Sections of cliffs in the area retreated 15 metres between 2005 and 2012, according to the findings.

'The railway line is at severe risk over the next few years', reported senior local authority engineer Gerry Forde at a Wexford Council meeting.

'Part of the cliffs have retreated by 15 metres. It's a serious issue for the railway line between Rosslare Strand and Rosslare Harbour', he said.

Cllr. Tony Walsh of People Before Profit said he never realised how much coastal erosion was threatening the rail line and he wondering how much the problem featured in Irish Railway's maintenance of the line.

Mr. Forde said not much anti-erosion work had been done in the area over the past 1o to 15 years apart from work carried out by Rosslare Golf Club.

'I will be giving Irish Rail a copy of this report. the cliffs are very high. The cost of protecting high cliffs would be astronomical, but that is a matter for Irish Rail', he said.

Wexford People

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