Community leaders in Lossiemouth are expressing their concerns over a recommendation that a ‘wait and see’ policy be taken over serious deterioration of the sea defences in the town.
The Old Pier breakwater has been crippled by recent extreme storms – but a report being placed before members of the economic development and infrastructure committee this week is recommending that no action other than a “watching brief” be taken.
Members of the Lossiemouth Community Council met last year with senior Moray Council officials to discuss the issue amid concerns that homes in the Seatown area were under an increasing threat of flooding as damage to the breakwater increased.
They were told at that time a report would be prepared on the condition of the breakwater with recommendations made accordingly. That report is now being presented this week and looks at the benefits offered by the breakwater, consequences of its complete removal and possible repair or rebuild solutions.
The study concluded that repairing the breakwater including closing gaps would be of “minimal benefit”, adding: “Repairs were not considered feasible because of its very poor condition, therefore like-for-like repairing the existing structure was discounted.”
Reporting an option to supplement the breakwater with rock would cost between £1.5m and £2m, the document adds that: “With limited flood risk, benefits are unlikely to amount to much,” adding that the benefit/cost ration calculated would be “very low”.
The report author, consultancy manager Dave Gowans, concludes that while the structure reduces flooding risk to public space it did not protect properties, and that the continuing deterioration would change the sedimentation regime.
Mr Gowans said: “While this is not sufficient justification for investment ahead of other flood risk management action across Moray, sedimentation should be monitored.
“It continues to function but has a low residual life of 10–15 years. Replacement would not be economically justified, but it could be augmented by a rock revetment at lower cost. There is no need to intervene at this time provided the condition is monitored.
“It can therefore be recommended that the Council “do nothing” but monitor the condition of the structure and changes to the sedimentation regime and when its function becomes materially degraded a more detailed study commissioned.”
That was a view not shared by Lossiemouth Community Council chairman Mike Mulholland, who said: “The breakwater has been in steady decline over the years along with erosion of the sand dunes protecting Seatown.
“For people thinking about selling their homes there is the constant and increasing threat of floods so house prices plummet. Waiting to find out the effects would be too late – so it would surely make more sense to invest in the breakwater, I would have thought it would be money well spent.”