Row over £11m Aberystwyth coastal defence plans payment

image copyrightCeredigion council
image captionThe plans include a secondary wave wall on the promenade

A row has broken out over who should foot the £11m bill to improve flood defences on a Welsh seafront.

Plans for Aberystwyth's Victorian promenade include an extra defence wall to protect properties.

The Welsh Government is meeting 75% of the bill and is not proposing to increase that, but Ceredigion council's leader wants the whole cost paid.

"We've been squeezed for cash over the past six or seven years and it's not easy to find that funding these days," said leader Ellen ap Gwynn.

"I think it's unfair that coastal counties have got to put their hands in their pockets for this sort of work whereas the coastline is a national asset.

"In my view, it should be paid for by the national government of Wales."

The design of the new defences would involve some parts of the wall having small sections which can be removed or put in place as needed so that "access can be maintained and the visual impact minimised", a report said.

image copyrightZeta Freeman
image captionRising sea levels and more severe weather has made the sea defence vital, the council said

It is hoped the scheme will reduce the amount of sand and stones thrown up onto the promenade and reduce the likelihood of severe flooding.

The council believes the scheme will take eight to 12 months to complete, although it suggested construction could be phased.

Once a public consultation is complete, the council will submit its plans to the Welsh Government for consideration as it is expected to finance 75% of the project.

media captionThe devastation caused by the hurricane-force winds that hit Aberystwyth seafront in 1938 was recorded by British Pathe in the aftermath of the storm

The current defences will then be investigated fully before more detailed design work takes place. A further consultation will then be held.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The 75% of costs funded by Welsh Government for the coastal risk management programme has been supported by 100% funding for preparatory and design work over the last two years.

"Local authorities have the option of working in partnership with third parties to meet the other 25%."

He added: "The Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn, wrote to the Welsh Local Government Association in February that Welsh Government grant funding for coastal schemes will remain at 75%. The WLGA confirmed it was content with this position."

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