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Sea Defences in Minehead.

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Introduction

Minehead is situated on the West Somerset coast. It has the second largest tidal range in the world, 14m. The large tides have been a mixed blessing in the past. Although they have allowed Minehead to develop into a busy seaside harbour they have also flooded the town on numerous occasions. (1910, 1936, 1981, 1989, 1990, 1992 and twice in 1996). At present Minehead has a huge range of leisure, sport and entertainment facilities. These include the Butlins holiday resort, the Aquasplash leisure pool and the newly refurbished Leisure centre at the West Somerset Community College. All of these help to provide an attractive, seaside resort to holidaymakers. Before the sea defences were built however, the constant flooding was costing the town a great amount of money spent mostly on clearing up after the floods. All of this money would have been more useful if it was ploughed into more attractions for tourists. After the defences were built, the money could then be spent on improving the visual impact of Minehead. This has brought much more revenue to the town. During the next fifty years it was forecast that storm damage would cost upwards of �21 million. This is why a �12.3 million outlay for sea defence improvement would be such a good investment. ...read more.

Middle

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. 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 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. This would have normally involved many lorry-loads of rock arriving at the site. Minehead does not have the infrastructure to support the extra strain on the roads. The Environment Agency wanted a 'greener' solution to this problem and so involved the West Somerset Railway. The company operates a steam train service, usually for tourists, between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead. ...read more.

Conclusion

The West Somerset Railway's rolling stock has been improved because of their rock haulage contract. This attracts more tourists. The newly designed access ramps have greatly improved disabled access to the beach area. The local community is divided on the complex issue of the sea defences. They affect many different groups of people. These speech bubbles convey the opinions of some local groups of people. My Opinion and Conclusion After carrying out extensive fieldwork at the site and also speaking to the local people, in my opinion the sea defences at Minehead are effective. I have backed up this claim by taking researching on the issue from other sources such as the Internet and Environment Agency publications. As you can see from the table that I have produced, the advantages of the sea wall and other defences far outweigh the disadvantages. You can also see from the from the opinions of local people that they appreciate the sea defences because they stop their businesses from flooding, have enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the area and have encouraged wildlife into the defended area. The groynes that were an integral part of the sea defence system seem to be performing their duty admirably and have kept the sparse beach in a reasonable state. The sea defences can only have enhanced tourism in the area because they have offered protection to the highly profitable Butlins resort in Minehead. The resort is now not flooded regularly and so can offer a better attraction for tourists. ...read more.

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