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These archive pages contain information mainly relating to the sea defence and beach recharge scheme planned by the developer to protect its proposed "holiday village" on the beaches at Carlyon Bay.  That sea defence scheme was refused permisson by the Secretary of State in 2007 after a Public Inquiry.  Now new plans have been approved  (2011) - these are discussed in the main part of this website. 


"Totally opposed", "could be disastrous", (Flood and sea defence expert)

The news of Ampersand's appeal against the government's decision to refuse planning permission for their enhanced sea defence scheme has prompted an expert in sea and flood defences in Cornwall to reiterate his opposition to the scheme.  John Woods is not a member of Carlyon Bay Watch and was unknown to us and our campaign until he contacted us some time before the 2006 Public Inquiry with his concerns about any development on the beach.  However, he supported us at the Public Inquiry and gave evidence against the sea defence application. 

John Woods, C.Eng. MICE., MCIWEM., is a former chief engineer Cornwall Flood Defence (now retired) for the National Rivers Authority, which was later merged with the Environment Agency.  He sent us this paper which we reproduce in full.


January 2009

Having recently learned of the Appeal by Ampersand against Enforcement and their delayed Appeal against the Secretary of State's decision to refuse Planning Consent for the sea defences they had constructed in 2004 without a shred of Planning Permission, I wish to place on record that I am, and always have been, totally opposed to any residential development on this beach.  This was the position taken in 1989 by the National Rivers Authority (NRA) when I was in charge of this issue and, as far as I am aware, it still is national policy.  It is a matter of record that in granting the original consent in 1990, Restormel Borough Council ignored the advice of the NRA.

This is not to say that there could not be a normal beach-type development with shops, cafes, toilets, restaurants, swimming pool etc.  The reasoning is simple.  If a severe weather warning was received the public could be excluded from the site simply by closing and locking a gate across the site road.  On the other hand, if a severe storm arose in the middle of the night with hundreds of people living down there, the results could be disastrous.  This was all spelt out at the Public Inquiry held in 2006 after which the Planning Inspector reported to the Secretary of State that the restrospective planning application should be refused.

As I understand it, Ampersand are appealing on the grounds that the Secretary of State's decision based, at least in part, upon the Inspector's report was "irrational".  I can only presume that to mean that having already received an earlier Consent for development on the beach, the revised scheme is better and safer.  As I have previously made clear, in my professional opinion, the proposed new sea wall design would be unstable and less safe than the original design.  Apart from the actual structural design being questionable, the need to move thousands of tonnes of sand annually from one end of the beach to the other to support the wall is impractical.  Has anyone yet seen a loaded truck or dumper move across the beach from one end to the other, crossing the Sandy River outfall on the way?  Further, with the beach becoming higher due to the planned replenishment, the Sandy River outlet will become an enormous gulley and a major obstacle.  I doubt it can be done, and this issue was all a part of my Proof of Evidence to the Public Inquiry.

With regard to Ampersand's reason for having the High Court hearing postponed until May 2009, I suppose that any independent person (e.g. a High Court Judge) considering the matter in December with the full force of winter to come might think it ridiculous to have hundreds of people living on the beach in adverse and potentially dangerous conditions.  That same proposal, considered on a fine day in May, with summer still to come, could look a much more reasonable proposition.

It is sad that the matter is being allowed to drag on for so long.  Perhaps the new Unitary Authority for Cornwall will demand the removal of the presently unapproved sea wall construction if only on the grounds of safety.  Anyone presently caught on the beach by rogue waves with the wall in its present state would stand no chance of escape.  May I reiterate that these views, personally expressed, are borne of a long professional experience in the engineering management of sea and flood defences in Cornwall.

Yours aye,

John Woods, C.Eng.MICE., MCIWEM.



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