Mid Wales

Aberystwyth promenade repairs ahead of high tide threat

High waves hit Aberystwyth seafront Image copyright Mark Lewis
Image caption High winds, a high tide and a sea surge caused huge damage to Aberystwyth seafront on 3 January

Contractors are working against the clock to protect a promenade which was battered by new year storms from high tides next weekend.

The severe damage to Aberystwyth seafront was caused by high winds, a high tide and a sea surge, and has so far cost £150,000 to repair.

But the tides expected on 1 and 2 February have led to concerns of further destruction.

The council said it was confident defences would be shored up in time.

Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies said this week that robust plans were in place to protect people and properties in Wales from the predicted high tides.

Aberystwyth will see some of the highest tides of the year on the weekend of Saturday, 1 February and Sunday, 2 February.

The town was one of those hardest hit by heavy rain, strong winds and high tides that hit the Welsh coast between 3 and 6 January.

Image caption Aberystwyth shelter has been removed for repairs

Hundreds of people including students whose term-time accommodation is on the seafront itself had to leave their homes ahead of the high tide.

A Grade II-listed shelter partly fell into a hole after its foundations were washed away as massive waves pounded the promenade.

The 1920s' landmark was badly damaged and has been dismantled for repair.

Ceredigion council estimates the cost of repairing the promenade has topped £1.5m and fears the bill will increase if similar storms to those seen earlier this month hit the town next weekend.

It has started talks with the Welsh government on submitting a bid to help fund the seafront's restoration.

Councillor Alun Williams, the Bronglais representative on Ceredigion council, told BBC Radio Wales they were preparing for the possibility of a recurrence of the coastal flooding.

"I say possibility because the tide's due to exceed the height that it reached last time," he said.

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Media captionThe weather next weekend may not be as bad as the last high tides

"However, it was a combination of high tide and strong winds and the right wind direction that let to the battering that Aberystwyth and the villages along the coast received at the start of the year.

"There may actually be nothing to worry about but we're taking all the preparatory steps just in case."

Ceredigion's chief buildings maintenance officer, Mel Hopkins, said he was hopeful that sea defence preparation work would be completed by next Friday.

Beach clean-up

"The beach was at the same height as the promenade wall after the storms in January so we have re-profiled the beach by pulling sand back so that more of the promenade wall is shown," he said.

"This should provide a better defence to waves if there is bad weather next weekend.

"We will also have filled the hole underneath the shelter with concrete.

Image copyright Other
Image caption More than 200 volunteers helped the clean-up operation on 11 January

"We are hopeful that contractors will have replaced damaged parts of the sea wall and replaced paving slabs on the promenade.

"This will enable us to remove protective fencing in time for the high tides."

Meanwhile, the Marine Conservation Society has organised a beach clean up in Criccieth, Gwynedd, on Saturday morning at 10:30 GMT.

Lauren Eyles, the society's beachwatch officer, said: "After storms, the strandline is often higher up the beach than normal and, on some beaches that our staff and volunteers have already cleaned, we've seen much more litter than is usual at this time of the year.

"Storms like the ones we have seen in the last month mean that many unusual items are likely to have been washed up and need clearing away, and some could cause harm to wildlife or human visitors."

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