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Overwintering birds force rethink of coastal defence plans

28 May 2022 2 minute read
Rhos on sea harbour. Photo SteveGillPhotos is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

Overwintering birds have caused Conwy County Council to rethink its coastal defence plans.

Conwy has submitted a planning application to its own planning department, seeking a relaxation of the rules governing its coastal defence scheme in Rhos-on-Sea.

The council has already approved planning applications to improve its multi-million-pound coastal defence projects guarding against climate change, rising sea levels and future storms.

As part of the plans, using Welsh Government funds, the council will strengthen sea walls, heighten promenades, and ‘renourish’ beaches with sand and sediment.

Large rocks will also be placed up and down the coast.

The council will also regenerate Colwyn Bay’s promenade, improving facilities for locals and visitors.

But Conwy has applied to its own planning committee, seeking permission to relax a condition designed to prevent the siltation of Rhos-on-Sea harbour.

The current planning permission states that no ‘beach recharge’ operations – adding more sand and sediment – should start until work has been carried out to extend and raise the height of a rock groyne, the artificial breakwater which protects the bay.

Shifting sand

This clause protects Rhos Harbour from siltation, or the harbour becoming blocked with shifting sand.

But Conwy now says the clause makes the work impossible to complete because a marine licence stipulates that the heightening of the breakwater must be completed before the end of September – to protect birds.

Addressing the clause, the planning application reads: “This however renders works undeliverable, as the marine licence requires that beach recharge operations must be complete before the end of September to ensure that overwintering birds are not affected by the works.

“There would not be enough time to completely finish the rock groyne works before starting the beach nourishment works.”

The new planning application has been registered by Conwy and will be decided by the council’s planning department, either by the committee or delegation.

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