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Are the sea defences at Minehead effective and have they enhanced tourism?

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Are the sea defences at Minehead effective and have they enhanced tourism? Introduction Minehead is located in the South-west of England, on the Somerset coast (as shown in pictures 1 & 2). The area of sea is subject to the second largest tidal ranges in the world, 14m. Over the years the tides have been a mixed blessing, with it's vary fast running currents. The tides have allowed Minehead to develop into a busy seaside area with their harbour. Minedhead has also been flooded on numerous occasions, for example in 1910, 1936, 1981, 1989, 1990, 1992 and twice in 1996. Picture 1 History/ Background Minehead has had some form of sea defence for several years. When the town was just a small hamlet the only protection from the sea was by a high beach, which was backed by a natural shingle and cobble ridge. However with the town growing rapidly, the ridge was gradually replaced with a masonry wall. Minehead's harbour to the west, 'rip-rap' groynes were placed along the beach which contributed to a major loss of the beach material since the early 20th century. ...read more.


When a wave breaks, the swash (foaming water rushing up the beach) carries material up the beach at the same angle at which the wave approached it. The back-swash then carries material back at right angles to the beach under the influence of gravity. This causes the zig-zag movement of material across the beach. Longshore drift usually happens in the same direction as the prevailing wind. In Minehead, the prevailing winds come from the Southwest so therefore the direction of longshore drift is Easterly. Current sea defences The current sea defences at Minehead had a shaky start from the planning and construction side, with each attempt changing. However the 'first sod' of the new scheme was cut in January of 1997. This launched the first phase of the project. The following items were to be constructed in the first phase; the sea wall, rock groynes (see picture 5) and armouring, raised areas and shelters, viewing and access ramps, and extension to the town culvert and finally the landscaping of the area. The 100,000 tonnes of rock needed for the armouring was transported from a Mendip quarry. ...read more.


The issues with Minehead sea defences are highly complex. The table of Advantages and Disadvantages above show you just some of the issues involved Other people's opinions Local shopkeeper/Hotelier Elderly Resident of Minehead Butlins Employee Contractors Single mother of four from an impoverished region of mid-Wales Environmentalists My Opinion and Conclusion In my opinion the sea defences at Minehead are effective. My claim is backed up with other research from other sources like the Internet and Environmental Agency publications. From looking within the table I produced, you can see clearly how the advantages have outweighed the disadvantages. When you look at the local communities opinions, they appreciate the sea defences because they stop yearly flooding, and from ruining their businesses. They have also enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the area and have encouraged much wildlife into the area. The 'rip-rap' groynes that were an integral part of the sea defence system seem to be performing their duty admirably, and keeping the sparse bay in a reasonable state. I believe that the sea defences have only enhanced tourism in the area because they offer a protection to the highly profitable Butlins holiday resort in Minehead. The resort is now not flooded regularly and offers a better attraction for tourists. Nicola Bryant 11K ...read more.

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