North West Wales

Damaged Old Colwyn sea defences 'risking lives'

Recent storms have battered Old Colwyn's sea defences Image copyright Conwy council
Image caption Recent storms have battered Old Colwyn's sea defences

Urgent action is needed to strengthen sea defences protecting the railway line and the A55 in Old Colwyn or lives could be lost, an AM has said.

Conservative AM Darren Millar said the coastline was further damaged by bad weather in early January, and is now in a "critical condition".

He has planned to raise the issue in the Senedd on Tuesday.

Network Rail said assessments show there is "minimal flood risk to the railway".

But Clywd West AM Mr Millar said he is "very concerned" and warned every storm "takes its toll" on the promenade.

"There was further damage last week to the railings and some of the walls on the sea defences," he added.

"It's just a matter of time before we see a serious incident like a loss of life or even some of the railway embankment coming down which would cause absolute havoc.

"It's essential that some work is done here - not just repairs, but a thorough job to bring it up to standard so that people can be protected from the sea."

Image caption Defences were damaged during floods last week

The stretch of coastline consists of a narrow promenade, which is maintained by Conwy council, with the railway embankment immediately behind, and the main A55 road beyond it.

A Welsh Water storm drain also runs under the promenade.

Conwy councillor Cheryl Carlisle, who represents the area, said: "I'm very worried for the safety of people and the infrastructure. The bank supporting the railway line and the A55 has been badly eroded.

"It will only take a little bit more in future and they'll both go."

According to Mr Millar, a lack of agreement between different organisations over how to pay for works is holding up progress.

He said Conwy council cannot apply for money from the Welsh Government's fund to protect houses because there are no homes immediately nearby, which means it needs to find funding from Network Rail and other organisations.

Image copyright Conwy council
Image caption Critics say sea defences at Old Colwyn are now in a "critical condition"

"In spite of the council's best efforts, Conwy council, Network Rail and Welsh Water haven't managed to get together yet to agree a way forward," Mr Millar added.

"We need some leadership from the Welsh Government. We need the cabinet secretary to take responsibility to bring these partners together so we can realise the investment that these sea defences need."

A Network Rail spokesman said a number of improvements were made at Old Colwyn in 2014 and the firm would do what was needed to make any further improvements if necessary.

A Welsh Water spokesperson said sea defences fall under the responsibility of the local authority.

They added: "We understand that Conwy Council have requested funding from the Welsh Government to help undertake repair work and requested to be kept informed of developments."

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