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Warnings Cornwall's Coastline Is Vulnerable To Future Storms

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2:24pm 18th November 2014
(Updated 2:24pm 18th November 2014)

There is a warning that Cornwall could be left exposed to another winter of storms.

It is because sand has been stripped from our beaches.

At Perranporth half a million cubic metres was sucked away during last year's lashing.

Now scientists at Plymouth University warn that has left the coastline with a lot less natural protection.

Rob Job owns the Watering Hole on the beach, he said: "we have to have this big sand bank around us basically to protect us, we're that much far above sea level, we've had to reinforce the front area which has washed away twice now, people are probably used to it."

Alan Hudson lived through massive waves battering Kingsand, he said: "We weren't frightened but we were concerned, we've seen it all before here but not quite as bad, waves were coming over the roof and breaking when the coastguard evacuated us."

Paul Russell, Professor of Coastal Dynamics at Plymouth University, said:

"The conditions last year were the worst in at least 60 years. Four severe storms impacted South West England over a six-week period, each with unprecedented wave heights of eight to ten metres. These huge waves have reshaped our coastline. On the north coast beach levels have lowered as sand was shifted offshore, while on the south coast the dominant west to east transport has caused beaches to rotate, leaving the western ends of many beaches severely depleted. Since the storms, recovery has been limited with beaches on the north coast typically only regaining half of the sand lost while some south coast beaches have seen hardly any recovery."

Professor Gerd Masselink, Professor of Coastal Geomorphology at Plymouth University, said:

"Every coastal community in the South West was adversely affected by the storms of last winter. But the vast majority of them are going into the coming months in a worse position than they were last year because the natural barriers that usually protect them have been depleted. Beaches absorb the energy of incoming waves and, with beach levels lowered, larger waves are able to come closer to shore. Normally we would expect sand eroded during winter to be returned to beaches over the summer, but last year's winter waves moved the sand so far offshore or alongshore that it cannot easily come back.

"A lot of beaches almost look like rocky shores, a lot have almost disappeared because all the sand is gone

"A lot of the beaches on the north coast look quite empty, a lot of rock is exposed and you may wonder where the sand has gone, well it's gone seaward of the low tide line, it's sort of sitting in about three or four metres water depth, and it is just waiting to be returned under slightly calmer conditions.

"The beaches are less able to protect themselves now as there is less sand to take the energy out of the waves, so the coastlines are more vulnerable now than they were last year."

2:24pm 18th November 2014

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