ENVIRONMENT’S £20m. upgrade of coastal defences will defend the coastline against rising sea levels – but it can never protect against storms, it has said.
The department attempted to clarify its report, improving defences at St Sampson’s Harbour and Belle Greve over five years, after recent 50mph winds and high tides battered the island.
It led West deputy David De Lisle to question whether Environment was right to prioritise those east coast locations over places such as Perelle and Rocquaine.
But the department argued that St Sampson’s and Belle Greve were the most susceptible to rising sea levels and coastal flooding.
‘Neither St Sampson’s Harbour area nor Les Banques suffered serious damage in the recent storms but the flood risk from predicted sea level rise remains,’ a spokesman said.
‘If funding for defence projects for St Sampson’s and/or Les Banques is diverted now, these two areas may be set back to a point where essential infrastructure or business operation may be put at serious risk.
‘The sustained storm conditions recently were outside many islanders’ experience and people living alongside the coast were particularly affected with sea water pouring onto their gardens, as well as dealing with sand, weed and pebbles.
‘However, it must be appreciated that the power of the sea under such conditions means that it is unlikely that it will ever be possible to prevent storm-driven waves causing damage, given the road and extensive property development that is concentrated around the flatter areas of the east and west coast.’