What can be done to stop coastal erosion in the Isle of Man?

Coastal erosion in the vicinity of Glen Wyllin looking north

Coastal erosion in the vicinity of Glen Wyllin looking north

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A government group set up to tackle coastal erosion in the Isle of Man will meet on Friday.

The coastal erosion working group, set up by Environment Minister Phil Gawne MHK, is meeting at 2pm in the Mitre Hotel car park in Kirk Michael.

The group hopes to find ways to slow the rate of coastal erosion in the Glen Wyllin area of Kirk Michael and includes Alf Cannan MHK plus other local commissioners.

Mr Cannan said: ‘We’re currently looking at the options and what is feasible. Cost is the biggest limitation.

‘The key issues are what we do and when do we intervene. The current government policy is to do nothing.

‘We need to be able to do something that’s of a reasonable cost. People have been trying to slow down the erosion for nearly 100 years. It’s a battle.

‘We can’t do absolutely nothing. At the meeting on the 9th we will be taking the group on a walk around the areas of concern and showing them from four different angles.’

Cat Turner, secretary of Isle of Man Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Coastal erosion is just one of the many ways in which climate change is already impacting on our island – as it is in much of the world.

‘It comes about partly because of the more frequent incidences of extreme weather we’ve been seeing, and partly because of sea level rises –these two aspects create an unholy mix of factors which can play havoc with our shoreline.

‘The International Panel on Climate Change, which released its latest compendium of reports recently, has made it clear that we can only expect this to increase: mean sea level is predicted to rise, and the frequency and severity of coastal storms to increase.

‘Thus we can expect more risk of the recent local coastal erosion and flooding that so affected residents earlier this year.

‘It’s hard – as with all things climate-related – to be precise about what this will mean for the island, but it undoubtedly brings economic and physical woes.

‘After all, at the end of the 21st century, mean sea level is predicted to be 0.18m to 0.59m above its current levels.

‘If typical values for a Manx shore were a closure depth of 10m and closure distance of 1000m, then at that particular location a sea level rise of 0.4 metres would eventually bring about a new “equilibrium coastline” – where the new shore eventually establishes itself - some 40 metres inland from where it is today.’

Simon Renton, of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s environmental protection unit, said: ‘The Michael coastal erosion working party is currently investigating the financial costs of options for slowing erosion at Kirk Michael as well as looking for other potentially sustainable options to support the thriving community there as coastal change happens to ensure it remains an attractive place for people to live, work and visit.’

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