South West winter storm-hit beaches slow to recover

Image caption Areas affected by flooding in February included Kingsand (pictured) and Perranporth in Cornwall, as well as Dawlish in Devon

Several beaches in south-west England have not recovered from the winter storms, scientists have found.

Researchers have taken samples from 40 beaches across the region and found many are still in a vulnerable state.

Millions of tonnes of sand were washed away and left some shorelines completely exposed, they said.

The data collected by the scientists will be used by local authorities and the Environment Agency to determine which beaches need coastal protection.

Dangling in mid-air

Experts from Plymouth University and the city's coastal observatory are trying to determine how much sand has been lost from 40 beaches across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

They warned another winter storm could leave beaches in a more precarious situation.

Emerald Siggery, a scientist with the observatory, said: "We were surprised at the losses we've seen at some of the beaches.

Image caption The winter storms gouged out a huge section of sand near the Watering Hole pub in Perranporth

"There's been a lot of losses at Dawlish Warren and Slapton in Devon, but then we have seen recovery at St Ives [in Cornwall].

"We need to keep on monitoring the beaches to show how they recover over the longer term."

The team has also returned from monitoring beaches on the Isles of Scilly and said it would release its findings soon.

The winter storms wreaked havoc throughout the region.

In Cornwall, hundreds of tonnes of sand were shifted to protect the Watering Hole pub which is on the beach at Perranporth.

In Kingsand, the storms led to sand several inches deep being left along roads and its clocktower facing demolition before its foundation were repaired.

The coastal railway route linking Devon and Cornwall was also affected for several weeks at Dawlish after massive waves left the railways tracks dangling in mid-air.

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