England

Devon and Cornwall storm: Huge waves forecast

  • 7 February 2014
  • From the section England
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Image caption This map from surf forecasters shows waves up to 35ft (10.6m) high expected as the next storm approaches

The South West is preparing itself for another battering by the elements with strong winds and rain forecast for Friday night and into the weekend.

There is a Met Office yellow alert - meaning be aware - for rain, and an amber wind alert - meaning be prepared - for gusts of up to 80mph (130km/h).

Surf forecasters said the predicted wave heights of 35ft (10.6m) were the largest of the recent storms.

Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin visited a damaged rail line at Dawlish.

Extra flights

Railway engineers have been working on the affected section of track at Dawlish, which links Cornwall and much of the Devon with the rest of the UK by rail.

The line was left dangling above the sea after ballast was washed away, costing £8m a day in lost business according to local firms.

After inspecting the damage, the minister said train companies should lower fares to help people affected by the floods.

"People's rail travel is getting affected. I want train companies to help them by reducing their fares," he said.

First Great Western said "walk-up" fares on routes affected by the Dawlish closure would be cut by 25% from Monday.

Flybe will be putting on three extra flights from Newquay to Gatwick each day while repairs are carried out, which Network Rail estimates will take at least six weeks.

Image caption Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin has visited Dawlish, where Network Rail has started removing the track before repairs begin to the shattered sea defences

This will provide an extra 4,500 seats a week "to alleviate south-west England passenger transport woes", the airline said.

National Express has added five new coach services to cope with extra demand.

Mr McLoughlin said: "The South West is not closed, it is open for business.

"It is a great place for tourists to come and they will be very welcome here."

South West local authority leaders have written to Prime Minister David Cameron demanding urgent action from the government to restore rail connections to the rest of the country as quickly as possible.

"This is causing immense damage to the region's economy, the scale of which makes it imperative the government takes action now," said the letter.

Media captionA series of severe storms is stacked up in the Atlantic, destined to hit the UK because of the jet stream's path

Jacqueline Coles, one of those evacuated from her home in Dawlish said: "I won't feel safe even when they say we can go back. I'm going to say 'I'm not going back, you will have to put me somewhere else'."

Concrete will be sprayed on to the cliff to try to limit the short-term damage. Work to restore the line properly starts next week.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel - who designed the Great Western Railway - visited Dawlish in October 1846 to inspect eight breaches of the sea wall, according to the social media website Twitter, which includes a newspaper article headlined "the Dawlish catastrophe".

Ed Temperley of surf forecasters Magic Seaweed, warned the approaching storm could see waves close to shore "significantly larger" than waves from the storm dubbed Hercules that hit the South West on 6 January.

Media captionOcean foam envelops a bus travelling past Poldhu beach in Mullion, Cornwall

"When these forces come in conjunction with high winds, and a strong wind and pressure-driven tidal surge impacting already weakened sea defences, it may result in significant damage," he said.

"On the plus side we will be seeing neap tides (a low high tide) but the worry is that any benefits that may bring will be negated by the sand having been stripped from many beaches.

"This natural barrier serves as a first line of defence and many beaches have lost several feet, exposing defences directly."

Cornwall Council has estimated the cost of weather damage so far to be £21m - more than double the £10m figure it estimated at the beginning of the week.

amount it estimated and that figure was expected rise over the weekend.

Tresco's famous Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly have been put in danger after storms ripped up 15m (50ft) of the dunes.

Four of the world's top professional windsurfers have flown in from around the world to take on the waves in Cornwall in the Red Bull Storm Chase.

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