£1million to boost Sunderland's coastal defences after extreme weather took its toll

Plans to invest nearly £1million to future-proof coastal defences near the Port of Sunderland have been approved by city leaders.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 1:23 pm

In March 2018, Storm Emma and subsequent severe weather events wreaked havoc on Sunderland’s coastline at Old North Pier, New South Pier and Stonehill Wall.

Later the same year, around £3.1million worth of ‘stabilisation works’ were approved at the sites to prevent further damage.

This week, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet agreed to start the process to appoint contractors for further ‘critical maintenance works’ at Stonehill Wall.

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The damage in 2018

Works include replacing the reinforced concrete deck/wave wall and missing concrete copings as well as extending the structure.

The £975,000 project aims to protect development on the east shore, including the new enterprise zone development and the Port of Sunderland.

Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, Coun Amy Wilson, outlined the plans to cabinet on Tuesday February 11.

A report prepared for council bosses describes Stonehill Wall as an “integral part of the sea defence frontage”.

Stonehill Wall images from March 2018 showing post-storm damage

It goes on to say: “By undertaking the proposed works the lifespan of the structure will be extended; Hudson Dock will continue to be protected and access to the foreshore will allow for a more effective maintenance and repair to that area of the coastal defences.”

Coun Wilson added the scheme would “help to prevent further structural damage and maintain the functionality of the port.”

Subject to approvals, council bosses hope to start the works in June this year which will take around 26 weeks.

Councillors were warned extreme weather, material lead in times and permissions from Natural England and the Environment Agency may delay the project.

Stonehill Wall images from March 2018 showing post-storm damage

Sunderland City Council’s planning authority must also grant approval before work can take place.

A bad weather year for Sunderland

2018 saw Sunderland pounded by extreme weather from both the Beast from the East and Storm Emma, with snowy and icy conditions causing disruption to council services as well as lasting damage.

Deputy council leader Michael Mordey said at the time that council staff “absolutely worked their fingers to the bones” to keep the city running.