Environment Minister Lord Henley today visited Blackpool to look at new and proposed flood defences and coastal protection aimed at guarding against future storm surges and rising sea levels as a result of climate change.
Parts of the Fylde have previously been hit by flooding and climate change will make coastal areas such as these more susceptible to extremes of weather and tide.
Lord Henley visited Anchorsholme, to the North of the town where an innovative new coastal protection scheme is being developed to protect 1,500 homes and businesses from flooding.
He also viewed the newly built flood defences at North Pier. All of the new flood defences have been designed, not only to reduce the risk of flooding, but to regenerate the seafront areas of the town and creating more open space for use by visitors to one of Britain’s top tourist attractions.
Lord Henley said:
“The climate in Blackpool and across the world is changing due to the emissions already locked in the atmosphere. There will be impacts such as changes in the weather, sea levels coastal erosion that have implications for the leisure and tourism industry and households in Blackpool. At Defra we are working to ensure everyone is ready for how climate change will affect them. For example. these sea defences will greatly reduce the risk of severe flooding in Blackpool for decades to come.”
Blackpool’s flood defences project, led by the urban regeneration company ReBlackpool and the local council, are funded by Defra and the European Regional Development fund. The council have also worked closely with the Environment Agency in the design of the schemes.
The Institute of Civil Engineers rated Blackpool’s flood defence scheme as one of the best in the UK.
Blackpool’s New Innovative Sea Defences
The Environment Agency with others identified the need for improvements to be made to the sea defences in Blackpool. Through working in partnership with the local authority, and with money provided by NWDA, DEFRA and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) it was possible to strengthen 3km of sea wall, protecting 1500 local public and private businesses from the risk of flooding
DEFRA contributed £67.5 million, which enabled additional funding of £8.2 million to be provided from the North West Regional Development Agency and £3 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Innovative design has created 6 large headlands; each extending 30 metres, which offer unique tourism attractions and provide better access to the beach and promenade, along with the creation of a new summer promenade. These new headlands along the seafront will be used to create “a year round urban park” for Blackpool.
Blackpool Council has described the aims of the work as five fold:
- To provide vital coast protection that will end the risk of flood for 1500 business and residential properties and stop coastal erosion;
- To increase the width of the pedestrian promenade to create an additional 5 hectares of high quality, open space for visitors and residents to enjoy;
- To create six new headlands offering unique attractions celebrating all the fun of the seaside;
- To provide better access to the beach and promenade for all; and
- To create a unique seafront that can’t be found anywhere else in the world
In the past there have been breaches of the sea defences in the central seafront area due to a combination of high tides, high winds and high rainfall. The effects of climate change will make extreme weather events more common, reinforcing the need for the adaptive improvements to coastal defences such as those constructed on Blackpool seafront. The new seawall will continue to protect the central area of Blackpool from coastal erosion and flooding with a designed life of 100 years.
Details of ReBlackpool’s regeneration of the town can be found at www.bfwedc.co.uk/default.aspx