Southsea sea defence scheme approved by Portsmouth City Council
'CLIMATE change is not going to wait for anyone' - public safety took precedence as city councillors unanimously approved a controversial £131m sea defence scheme.
Despite several impassioned objections from local residents Portsmouth City Council's planning committee resolved to press ahead with the Southsea sea defence scheme that will protect more than 8,000 city homes from rising sea levels.
In the past six years there have been three 'serious' breaches of the existing defences. And it is thought the area could be hit by up to four metres of water in the event of extreme flooding.
Zane Gunton, the project's team leader, said: 'Our current sea defences are not fit for purpose and are at the end of their serviceable life.
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'This is an opportunity to protect people and future generations.'
But objectors took issue with some of the designs.
John Thurston, from Clarence Pier, said: 'We are not here to delay the sea defences. However, the current proposals do not protect Clarence Pier or the surrounding land.
'If the current plans for the sea defences were to go ahead Clarence Pier would most reluctantly have to proceed with damage and compensation claims.'
However, Mr Gunton responded: 'We have worked with the owners of Clarance Pier to try to find a solution but it is not technically feasible to run a defence line without redeveloping the whole site, which is unfortunately not something we can do with the government funding we have.'
Mike Dobson, from the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, had objections to the cycle path provision. He said: 'The planned cycle route will not meet the cycle objectives of the seafront plan.
'Portsmouth is already one of the most dangerous places in the country for cyclists. The design to prioritise car parking on the sea front over a safe cycling route is wrong.'
Councillors insisted the public would still be consulted every step of the way and were assured by officers that some finer details, such as the coastal roads, cycle lanes and paths could be amended at a later date.
Cllr Steve Pitt: 'We would not be where we are now had those public consultations not taken place.
'There is no reason to stop that process. The more feedback we have from the city the better.'
Cllr Frank Jonas said: 'My understanding is the council can address a change in the future and can move the roadway, the cycle way and the pathway.
'If that's the case and as long as it was prioritised as pedestrians, then cyclists and motorists we should proceed.
'Climate change is not going to wait for anyone.'
The scheme, that will run from Long Curtain Moat to Eastney, is precicted to cost a total of £131m. It is hoped £107m of this will come from the Environment Agency.