Protective wall to be put on Portrane beach to protect homes from erosion
Authorities say wall is only a temporary ‘emergency’ defence as they battle to find a longer-term solution to rapid coastal erosion
Over the past five years the coastline of Portrane’s Burrow peninsula has receded by as much as 20m in sections, with major storms taking chunks of land. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Some €500,000 worth of five-tonne concrete blocks are to be lowered on to a north Co Dublin beach over the coming weeks in an attempt to thwart the sea from swallowing up homes.
However, authorities admit the 250m-long wall – almost 6m wide – at Portrane is only a temporary “emergency” defence as they battle to find a longer-term solution to increasingly rapid coastal erosion, worsened by climate change.
Over the past five years the coastline of the seaside village’s Burrow peninsula has receded by as much as 20m inland in sections, with major storms ravaging chunks of land at a time.
One family who had been restricted to living at the front of their home as the rear lay just a few feet from a cliff edge has since been evacuated after Storm Emma ate even further into the coastline last March.
While several more houses are just metres from the quickly-retreating shoreline, Fingal County Council says a “significant” number of other homes and businesses behind them are also threatened with flooding.
“The council’s expert advice is that the erosion has been exacerbated by storm activity, and that it is highly likely that changes in the offshore wave conditions observed off the coast of Dublin are a direct result of climate change,” a council spokesman said.
I watched a 2m-deep section, about 10m long, falling into the sea, in March two years ago. It can be fairly profound
Those changes are “actually in line” with predictions outlined in reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has warned of coastal erosion from an increased frequency of more extreme storms this century.
A three-section wall of reinforced concrete blocks designed to temper the force of waves crashing onto the dunes at Portrane is to be dropped on to the beach about 15m in front of the existing shoreline.
However, Alan Farrell, Fine Gael TD for the area, said he was unconvinced how effective the blocks would be even as a stopgap measure.
“I think it will provide people with an opportunity to shore up their own banks, in and around their own homes, so they are not without purpose. But I’ve been there in a storm, I’ve seen how quickly the dunes can be eroded. I watched a 2m-deep section, about 10m long, falling into the sea, in March two years ago. It can be fairly profound.”
The work is to be finished by the end of this month. Then the focus turns to finding a more lasting solution. “It is not possible at this stage to provide details of the range of options, alternatives and contingencies under consideration with regard to this issue,” said a council spokesman.