Wales

Airlift helps in repairs of Llanbedr coast storm damage

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Media captionA helicopter has started flying in giant bags of fine slate at Llanbedr

A helicopter is ferrying in tonnes of slate to plug a hole in Wales' storm-damaged coast in a race against time, amid concerns of a new storm surge.

About 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of farm land at Llanbedr, Gwynedd, have flooded twice a day since a 50m (160ft) breach was punched in sea defences.

One-tonne bags are being used as sandbags to create a temporary dam ahead of more high tides this weekend.

The Welsh coast was battered by storms at the start of the month.

Seep through gaps

Image caption Aberystwyth's seafront shelter sank into a hole after the promenade was damaged

Natural Resources Wales has drafted in emergency air support to speed up the sea defence repairs at Pensarn, near Llanbedr, where five houses and several agricultural buildings have also been flooded.

The helicopter is transporting 300 bags of fine slate over two days, helping to create part of a defence that will use 15,000 tonnes of boulders, clay and soil.

Deiniol Tegid of Natural Resources Wales said: "While the work carried out by the helicopter is expected to help, it will not hold back the sea completely, and some sea water is expected to seep through gaps and possibly come over the top.

"If successful however, it will significantly reduce the amount of flooding in this area during the high tides.

Disused quarry

"It's important to stress that the high tides alone are not predicted to cause too much of a problem.

"For similar conditions to what we saw earlier this year to occur, a storm surge would need to perfectly align with the tides - and this is what we are tracking."

The slate has been sourced from a local disused quarry by Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Image caption Remains of prehistoric trees have been uncovered by storms at Tywyn

The park authority's Mair Huws said: "Over the years, our footpaths team has grown accustomed to the unloading of thousands of tonnes of stone from helicopters at remote locations on Snowdon.

"It is therefore only natural for us to offer our service and expertise to Natural Resources Wales to try to avoid the damage that could occur during the next high tide."

Elsewhere, the cost of dealing with storm damage continues.

Seafront shelter

Aberystwyth, around 50 miles (80km) down the coast from Llanbedr, was one of the most high-profile victims of a tidal surge combining with strong winds and heavy rain.

Its promenade was holed and its 1920s' landmark seafront shelter was badly damaged and is now being dismantled for repair.

Ceredigion council said the cost of coastal repairs since the beginning of the year has reached £1.5m .

Pembrokeshire council has said it will cost at least £500,000 to repair the damage caused by the tidal storms at Newgale after tonnes of pebbles were washed ashore over a coastal road.

But the bad weather has also had an unexpected benefit for scientists after previously hidden traces of Stone Age landscape were exposed.

A four-mile stretch of coastline near Tywyn in Gwynedd was so altered by the sea that it was pushed back 50 feet (15 metres).

The new coastline has revealed the existence of ancients forests, with the remains of trees dating back 6,000 years.

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