Protect the areas that need it most

CONDITIONS over the weekend have put a focus firmly on weather and whether it is getting worse – one of the symptoms of climate change.

CONDITIONS over the weekend have put a focus firmly on weather and whether it is getting worse – one of the symptoms of climate change.

And for those islanders who experienced flooding and other storm-related damage, this is a live issue and one that the authorities here have to take seriously.

Environment can rightly point to its proposals to spend £55m. on coastal defences to prevent against a once-in-100 years event and it defended its 30-year scheme at the time saying that it would deliver well-founded, balanced decisions.

Those included spending £20m. over the next five years on priority coastal defence projects around St Sampson’s Harbour and Belle Greve Bay –  where, it says, more than 2,000 properties are at risk. The odd thing from the weekend’s gales, however, is that those priority areas were not the ones affected.

Engineers will this week be assessing how bad the damage is to Perelle coast road. Those there could feel the impact of the waves thudding through the ground and their properties.

There is some suggestion, also being investigated, that the road itself has been damaged, with its foundations perhaps having been washed away in a similar fashion to the kiosk at Pembroke.

The point is, however, that had the wall been breached as it was last year, the flooding and damage to properties could have been severe. Residents, certainly, would say this is a more significant hot-spot than those identified by Environment’s consultants.

Is this an instance where there is no substitute for local knowledge no matter how eminent the experts at Royal Haskoning, who prepared the department’s coastal defence strategy?

No doubt there will be an assessment of what happened over the weekend and how well the

island coped. The fact remains, however, that there are significant risks to property through events such as storms and high tides before climate change and rising sea levels are considered.

As Environment has indicated, preparing for that will cost a lot of money, even if it is spread over decades.

For those affected by the latest battering, however, it has to be spent in  the right areas.