Coastal erosion: Thousands of Scottish rocks were sent to an English village to stop the coastline from falling into the sea


Several thousand massive rocks have been shipped from Scotland to an English village to stop the coastline and road from falling into the sea.
Around 13,500 tons of stone were transported to a beach in the seaside section of Blue Anchor in West Somerset to stop coastal erosion.
The £3.8m permanent scheme will support the walls, mudstone cliff, and a section of the B3191 road.
Workers will move the boulders to the foot of the cliffs and reprofile the slopes, with the work waiting to finish by the end of September.
The fragility of this section of the coastline was underlined recently with the indefinite closure of the B3191 at Cleeve Hill, near Watchet.
Somerset West and Taunton Council performed emergency works to stabilise the wall and reduce the fear of a collapse in 2020.
Cllr Sarah Dyke, Lead Member for Habitat and Climate Change, said: “The labour that has been reaching in bringing so many tonnes of rock by sea so far is impressive, even more so when it has been completed onward of schedule.
“Tackling coastal erosion is a vast undertaking, and by providing this additional line of defence, we are cushioning the district community.”

Scottish Rocks Deployed to Protect English Village

Cllr Mike Rigby, for Transport and Digital, Lead Member, attach: “This has been a complex and lengthy logistical operation.
“Thank you to the project teams implicate and to all those who live in, or overtake, Blue Anchor for their fortitude while this important coastal shield work takes place and for continuing clear of the rock piles.”
Access to the beach and slipway will endure restricted while heavy machinery operates.
It comes after the village seaside resort of Hemsby in Norfolk was closed in February when its coastline lost 10ft (3 metres) of land in just two days.
If you had been alive 18,000 years ago, you could have walked straight from Cork to Stockholm. The floor of the North Sea was land, and objects were found in that strange, drowned world. A carefully sharpened flint scraper has been retrieved by Norwegians drilling for oil in 450 feet of water 100 miles east of Shetland. Trawlermen on the Dogger Bank have dragged up spearheads and mammal and rhinoceros teeth. Sometimes in their trawls, fishermen find lumps of peat from forgotten moors. It is an unsettling fact that tens of thousands of people once knew the floor of the North Sea, and any of us might know the Yorkshire Dales or the Sussex Downs.

Halting Coastal Erosion in an English Village

When this periglacial world began to warm up about 20,000 years ago, the ice sheets melted, and the sea level rose, on average, by about a centimetre a year. By 5,000 BC, it was some 130m (430ft) higher than it had been at glacial maximum, and Britain had become an island. But then the warming slowed. Since 2,000 BC, the sea level has remained extraordinarily constant, varying no more than a metre in 4,000 years. This period of sea-level stability has also seen the rise of urban and commercial civilisation. We have built our cities on a constant shore. That long constancy has allowed us to forget that we live in a privileged world. But that privilege is now over. The physical conditions of the world are changing for the first time since humanity started to build. For thousands of years, we have shaped the world. Now, for the first time, the world will shape us.
It is the most subtle and unknowable of processes. The rocks of this country are, in part, still bobbing up in response to that considerable ice load having been removed.

An enormous boss of Scotland and northern England, stretching from Inverness to Morecambe Bay and from Edinburgh to Islay, is rising about the sea. But outside that protuberant bump, the country is slowly going under, mainly because the ocean water is expanding as the earth warms up. Dire predictions of a sea-level rise of 6m or even 10m have been made regularly, but the evidence is contradictory. Such a vast increase will depend on melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. Still, a warmer atmosphere, which can hold more moisture, will increase snowfall over Antarctica, thickening the ice sheet and reducing or stabilising global sea levels. The science remains tentative.
There may be compact to worry about, and there may be a lot. The government-funded UK Climate Impacts Programme based in Oxford has produced maps that combine the predicted rise of the land with two different estimates for sea-level rise, one for a future in which we continue to drive our 4x4s and oil-fire our central heating as if there were no tomorrow; and one for a lot in which we all take a little more care.

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Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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