Danger at Porthleven Cliffs

Several months ago there was a massive cliff fall along Porthleven beach. This event took place at night, so there was limited danger to the public. With such a large part of the cliff coming away, this has weakened other parts of the cliff face.

It is impossible to predict when another part of the cliffs will collapse, but as a layman looking at it, I would guess it is more likely to come away sooner rather than later. The landowner of the ground above (Donkey Field) has erected additional signs at the field, and below on the cliff face to warn people of the danger.

I have also informed the National Trust and Cornwall Council of this danger and they are actively monitoring this area. The Police Inspector of the area has also been informed.

The simple message is please don’t stand near a cliff face, especially when ‘Danger’ is written all over it!

20120718-104903.jpg

June Waves at Porthleven

It was a few months ago when I said in a previous blog that I had not seen seas like this in a long while. Well, June has certainly topped April with the powerful and hypnotic display of raw wave power that I witnessed today at high-water. You might expect to see this type of sea in winter, but not in summer.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures

Bickford-Smith Institute and pier

The Pier

Porthleven's Outer Harbour

Porthleven's Outer Harbour

Bay View Terrace

Bay View Terrace

Huge Wave

A Huge Wave

Porthleven Sands

Beach and cliffs disappear in the waves

The SAS Need You!

I have received a plea from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) for help in winning a sack of money from the European Outdoor Conservation Association that will help deliver the following project:

To expand, develop and  train Surfers Against Sewage’s network of community Coastal Protection Activists who volunteer in coastal regions through grass root actions such as beach cleans, educational talks and environmental campaigns targeting marine litter, climate change, toxic chemicals, sewage effluent and wave protection. At least 30 beach cleans will be held.

This is a great project, but to be able to deliver it, SAS need your vote in a four-way competition with other European entries. Currently, SAS are just 130 votes ahead of the nearest competition and with the voting closing Thursday midnight anyone could win! Let’s make sure it is Surfers Against Sewage’s project.

So if you can please vote, but also pass on this message to all your friends, work colleges and family for them to vote.

The link to vote can be found HERE

Porthleven to be the First Think Before You Flush Town In the World?

I have been approached by the great environmental campaigners, Surfers Against Sewage to help in a campaign they are running. This campaign is called: ‘Think before you flush‘ and the aims of the campaign is to raise awareness and hopefully stop, various items like sanitary items, condoms, cotton-buds etc from being flushed down the toilet. As part of the campaign, SAS want Porthleven to become the first town to fully support it. A world first.

The item mentioned when flushed down the toilet not only harm the environment, but have in the past caused blockages which has resulted in raw sewage being pumped into the sea. Porthleven is very lucky because it not only has clean and beautiful beaches, but it is also has one of the best surfing breaks in the UK. It would be tragic if Porthleven’s great natural environment is harmed

The message on the SAS website is simple:

“Every day people are flushing objects such as cotton buds, sanitary products, condoms and razors down the toilet instead of putting them in the bin. Known in the business as sewage related debris or SRD, this can have a huge impact on the water environment. The only things that should be flushed are stuff that has passed through you and the toilet paper you use to wipe your arse!”

Personally, I am fully supporting this campaign and it is great to hear over 30 Porthleven businesses are supporting the campaign too.  I have said to SAS I would get this campaign onto Porthleven Town Council’s agenda in April. I feel pretty confident the town council will support this worthy cause.

So, Think before you flush!

Private Beaches Cleaned by the Tax Payer

The beaches of Cornwall are not just important to the tourism industry, but to the residents who use them all year round. No one want to see a dirty beach, as this can has a negative impact on those who use them. So, it is important beaches  where it is possible are kept clean.

My local beach, Porthleven West is owned by the National Trust, who do a very good job in keeping it clean, especially in the summer. On this beach you will often see a group of people walking along this beach cleaning it. Other beaches are owned by the Council who have a duty to keep them clean too. However, there are around 17 beaches that are privately owned, but Cornwall Council pays for their cleaning.

From the 1st April the following 17 beaches will not have the cleaning paid for by Cornwall Council. The beaches affected, including the current owner(s) are:

Carbis Bay – Carbis Bay Hotel,
Godrevy, Porthchapel, Porthcurno – National Trust,
Gwithian – CC/Duchy of Cornwall
Foreshore at Hayle estuary side – ING
Marazion – St Aubys Estate,
Perranuthnoe – Duchy of Cornwall
Porthkidney – RSPB
Porthkidney Sands – ING/Hayle Harbour Company
Upton Towans – CC (above Mean High Water), Mr Arbon, Duchy of Cornwall.

Gwenver, Beachside, Hayle Towans, Mexico Towans, Sennen and Sennen foreshore – Private owners

Now you might argue this cleaning arrangement should continue because this function was inherited from a former District Council. But is it fair on other landowners who are having to pay their own costs?  Why should the tax payer pay for cleaning on beaches which are owned by a commercial business? If the Council should, then why not other private beaches? I know beaches are important, but the owner of the land should be paying for their upkeep, and not the tax payer.

It is on par with me paying my next door neighbour’s house to be cleaned. It’s a very nice gesture, but certainly not fair.

Cliffs Fall onto Porthleven Beach

Just over a week ago, a few hundred tonnes of cliff collapsed on to Porthleven beach roughly 150m east of Blue Buoy Steps. The first I knew about it was the morning after when the owner of the land (land above cliffs) contacted me raising his concerns, and the possible danger to the public. I contacted the relevant officer at Cornwall Council who came down and inspected the landslide.

Out of that initial inspection it was decided to arrange a meeting with the relevant people and agencies. This included myself, the town council, Cornwall Council, the landowner of the cliff-top area and the owner of the beach, The National Trust. That way, the best course of action; to either prevent further landslides; and more importantly, protect the public.

These cliffs have a long history of landslides, though luckily not too frequent but frequent enough for Kerrier DC to build a series of concrete sea-defences along this area. Sadly, the sea-defences did not extend this far because of limited numbers of buildings. This of course has changed due to a few crazy planning decisions like Carn Del being given planning permission despite massive opposition to it. To this day I am still shocked planning permission was granted to buildings which some are no more than 10m from the cliff edge.

This meeting took place on Wednesday, and out of that meeting it was decided to erect a series of warning signs at the various access and exit points alone this stretch of coastline. Cornwall Council even though it is not the landowners of the beach will be placing warning signs at Blue Buoy Steps and the Slip near the town council offices.  The plan is then to sit down with The National Trust and see if any permanent solution can be found to reduce the risk of a massive landslide.

Looking at the area today it was apparent to anyone looking at the cliff face other parts are looking less than secure. The worry is this could go at any time with either a strong sea conditions, and more interestingly, strong easterly winds. A local resident who has lived along this stretch of coast for the last 80 odd years informed those present that these cliffs are more prone to collapse when there is a combination of strong sea conditions and easterly winds.

My message to anyone walking along this stretch of coastline which is not covered by the sea-defences is to stay well, well away from the base of the cliff.

Pictures below will show how large this landslide was even after all of the earth and smaller rocks have been washed away by the sea.

Blue Buoy Steps Porthleven

I have had a few requests from residents of Porthleven for a railing to be fitted at the bottom of Blue Buoy Steps. Theses steps leading onto the beach are steep, but are also well used. One reason for their high usage is these are the only steps that you can access the beach whilst the ban of dogs on beaches is active.

An early meeting this morning (8:15) with an officer from Cornwall Council has produced a result. It has been agreed that a railing will be fitted to these steps. The railing will be fitted as soon as it can be placed into the work plan. I hope this should not take more than six weeks.

I am grateful to the officer in coming out so early, and more importantly, agreeing with my request.

Cornwall Council – Beach Management Strategy

The link between Cornwall and its beaches is a strong as the link between bread and butter. The beaches are not just important because they look nice, but they are a significant economic and environmental asset for Cornwall, and provide an iconic image. They are without doubt a major reason why people visit and indeed live, in Cornwall.

With near 300 beaches around Cornwall’s coastline there is plenty of choice from sandy dunes to rocky coves. Out of these beaches Cornwall Council manages leases or delivers services on 86 beaches with 46 of these are privately owned.

At a recent meeting of the Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee the item for discussion was the Draft Beach Management Strategy for Council Councils owned beaches. The draft strategy describes the fundamental management tasks that the Council should provide on those identified beaches and the Additional management tasks that the Council should take if beaches are to retain their important role in Cornwall’s economy and environment.

As with all policies costs and funding are a major factor. It is of no surprise that Cornwall Council is looking of ways to reduces it spend in this area without downgrading the service it provides. One of the many areas it is looking at is beach cleaning.

There has been a discussion as to why the Council and therefore the tax payer should pay for the cleaning of beaches that are not owned by the Council. Out of the 46 private beaches 13 of these are cleaned by the Council. Is it right that the tax payer should pay, or should the land owner pay, or at least contribute to there running? This is a very difficult question as most people would not care (or not given it the thought) who owns the beach as long it is a clean and safe beach.

The current budget for 2010/11 is £287,000 and for 2011/12 it is £269,000. This is not a small amount of money, but if you look at it on a more strategic level this budget generates far, far more to Cornwall and therefore could be seen as money well spent.

My personal view is that we don’t suddenly stop cleaning the beaches not owned by us, but to talk to the landowners to see if a deal could be reached that is beneficial to all parties. Those other major beach owners (National Trust and Duchy of Cornwall) would no doubt be horrified if they were suddenly told it is now your problem, but nether should we be scared of saying “come on pay your shares”.