Recent storm surge events highlight an inconsistency in the approach to protecting the island’s sea defences, Castletown’s MHK claimed in Tynwald.
Richard Ronan said repairs to the breached sea wall in the ancient capital would be borne by the town’s ratepayers – while down the road at Gansey, the cost of making good storm-damaged defences would be paid for by the national government.
He described the hole in the sea wall by the Old Grammar School as ‘looking like a meteorite has hit’.
Chief Minister Allan Bell said he believed there is already a consistent approach to the island’s sea defences.
He rejected the idea of reserves being used, saying that while the recent events had been dramatic they had not reached the scale of a national emergency.
Mr Bell said he had seen for himself the damage caused by the storm surge in Castletown, which he said had demonstrated the ‘sheer power of the sea’.
He said a meeting had already been held between officers in the Department of Infrastructure and Castletown Commissioners and stone was being provided free of charges to shore up the defences and give short term protection. ‘If not already in place it’s certainly on its way,’ he added.
Mr Bell said the commissioners and DoI would also be working on a longer term solution.
The storm damage is estimated to have cost the government £300,000 and the Chief Minister said this would have to come from departments’ existing budgets.
Brenda Cannell (Douglas East) suggested that with extreme weather events becoming more frequent, as a result of ‘climatic change’, an emergency disaster contingency fund should be set up – an idea ruled out of hand by Mr Bell.
The Chief Minister said lessons would learned from what had happened and policies reviewed. But he said this did not mean the ‘entire government programme should be focused on coastal protection because of one extreme weather event’.
Alfred Cannan (Michael) invited Mr Bell to take a look at the coastal erosion in his constituency.
Two high tide storm surges earlier this month caused widespread flooding with Castletown and Ramsey badly hit. The tidal flooding was the worst in a decade.