Concerns have been raised by a local organisation that plans by Tenby Golf Club to construct a ‘coastal defence project’ to protect the course situated alongside South Beach from further erosion, could impact the character of the beach and the Conservation Area.
The application submitted to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority on behalf of Tenby Golf Club by STRI (acting as the Club’s agent) who are specialists in sports and golf course development, construction, and reconstruction, seeks the erection of a temporary coastal defence system incorporating gabion baskets and ‘mattresses’ made of steel frames and filled with stone, to be set out in front and laid on top of the existing dune system for an approximate length of 200 metres.
The applicants believe the proposals will protect the dunes and golf course adjacent to them from storm damage and erosion, for a period of up to 10 years; whilst a long-term solution is being explored by the Club which will look at a fully integrated and collaborative masterplan to redevelop the golf course so that it will be ‘protected’ from further encroachment.
Detailed studies have been undertaken which show that storm frequency is increasing, and that coastal erosion will be a continuing factor in managing the coastline at South Beach for the foreseeable future.
The Executive Committee of Tenby Civic Society recently discussed the application, with members raising several concerns as to the impact on the character of the beach and the Park.
In views which will be passed onto PCNPA for recommendation, Harry Gardiner on behalf of the Civic Society said: “The proposals’ 10 year life has some merit, but the serious longer term natural changes are not addressed in the proposal or, for land owners, in the wider ‘managed retreat’ coastal strategy.
“There will be inevitable dune erosion and a risk of serious flooding behind the dunes in the Ritec basin, as shown by official flood maps.
“The South Beach is still a natural beach backed by dunes, but he proposal will make it look more like a man made environment. With sea level rising the coastline will change; indeed ‘managed retreat’ is the agreed policy for the South Beach.”
The proposals’ reference to a ‘permanent solution’ suggests a major scheme with a seawall along the whole length of the South Beach with the loss of a natural beach environment; but the Civic Society went onto question whether that would be suitable in a National Coast Park.
“There could be alternatives to sea defences – phased changes to the course layout and acquiring adjoining land,” continued Mr. Gardiner.
“Substantial sand movement would be needed by the proposal. Over the years, damaged by the sea, the caissons would be very unattractive - would they be removed then? A less intrusive alternative more flexible defence might be heavy poles sunk deep along in front of the dune edge; some there already work well.
“There are no precautions mentioned for flooding at the southern end of the dunes which were at their low point only 1-2m above the last high tide-storm surge some years ago. “This is the most vulnerable point at which sea surge flooding would enter to affect the low lying Ritec basin reaching right into Tenby,” he added.
Discussing the application at a recent meeting of Tenby Town Council, Clr. Trevor Hallett also raised concerns, telling his fellow members that he was not in favour of the proposal, referring to a village in North Wales that was left to go back to the sea.
“Many things have been tried in the past but Neptune will do his work and every solution will only be temporary,” he commented.
Clr. Hallett said he believed that this area was partly owned by the army and partly by the golf club, and asked who would pay for these measures. It should not be the rate payers he stressed, adding that he believed that the army are not interested in paying.
Clr. Mrs. Sue Lane acknowledged Clr. Hallett’s knowledge but proposed accepting the application, believing this to be a ‘very important issue’.
“Tenby links club is the oldest in Wales, dating back to 1888. There have been problems with erosion years ago, and Clr. Mrs. Rossiter’s father designed three new holes, because of the erosion,” she stated, feeling that the facility must be supported to ensure its future as a golf club.
The Mayor, Clr. Mrs. Sam Skyrme-Blackhall said she was aware that Club members were very concerned that the course would be lost if nothing was done to mitigate against the erosion.
Councillors voted to approve the plans, with the majority of members feeling these measures were vital to help to mitigate the effects of coastal erosion on the viability and attraction of a links course considered to be the birthplace of Welsh golf.
Their recommendation along with Clr. Hallett’s views would be passed onto PCNPA.
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