Dawn of a new era for North East coast

safe haven: Seaham Harbour is part of the unique coastline that is being protected.
safe haven: Seaham Harbour is part of the unique coastline that is being protected.
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PLANS have been drawn up to protect a unique stretch of coastline for the future.

East Durham’s shoreline is the only one of its kind in the world thanks to its magnesium make-up and it’s because of this it has special status to protect the land, wildlife and plants.

The Environment Agency has set aside £300,000 to monitor the coast from St Abbs in the Scottish Borders to the Humber Estuary, which will result in a buoy being put in the North Sea to collect wave data, a survey of the sea bed and profiles of beaches being carried out.

Now Durham County Council plans to add to that by carrying out bi-annual surveys along Seaham promenade, capturing the seasonal changes of the beaches and the effects of the waves.

Information gathered will help shape future projects.

The council is already carrying out an urgent condition assessment of the town’s North Pier to establish its condition and estimate its working life.

It has also put together plans for two further studies of the pier, which is only accessible to the town’s angling club and has put £1million aside for works during the 2013/2014 financial year.

The Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), due to be considered by the council’s cabinet today, also details how the cliffs close to the promenade are inspected and that pre and post-winter checks are made of the rock armour sea defences at Featherbed Rocks, Bessie’s Hole, Red Acre Bay and the Chemical Beach.

Members have been asked to back the plan and continued assessment of the pier.

Simon Longstaff, drainage and coastal protection manager, said: “The SMP is an essential tool if we are to protect this valuable asset and reduce the risk to people and the developed, historic and natural environment from coastal erosion, climate change and any rise in sea level.”

The section of coast which includes the harbour is not included in the project because it is in private ownership.