Beach erosion fears at Magilligan Point

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A Magilligan man has expressed concern about the risk to his business, local homes, and an historical monument due to coastal erosion.

Owen McLaughlin, who owns The Point Bar at Magilligan Point, said beach and sand dunes at the front of his business have been washed away due to tidal surges in recent storms.

Owen McLaughlin on the beach at Magilligan Point.

Owen McLaughlin on the beach at Magilligan Point.

Water channelled underneath the nearby jetty used for a cross border ferry service may also have impacted the situation creating a deep channel where the beach has fallen in, said Mr McLaughlin.

The Magilligan man also believes Ministry of Defence sand groins - man-made structures designed to trap sand as it is moved down the beach by the longshore drift - removed approximately 10-15 years ago, in effect, removed the “first line of defence”.

“The beach is being washed away and because of the tidal surge last January that has taken away a lot of sand dune and beach, and unearthed a lot of rubble and stone on the beach and it’s quite unsightly,” said Owen.

“We lost a lot of rock armour last January as well, and we had to reinstate a lot of it and I feel if something isn’t done about , if a solution isn’t found we will experience more erosion.”

Mr McLaughlin recently met with the environment minister, Mark H Durkan who viewed the erosion during a visit last Wednesday.

“There is the possibility that if it’s not addressed the road and everything else could be compromised, that access will be lost to the Tower and to ourselves and, you have to ask, ‘where does it end?’ The minister said he would try his best to do what he can, if funds are available, but we just have to wait and see.”

SDLP Causeway Coast and Glens Councillor Gerry Mullan met with Mr McLaughlin on a visit with environment minister, Mark H Durkan. He said money needs to be identified to protect the coastline from future damage, an issue he has raised at council.

DOE Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I met with Owen McLaughlin on Wednesday 15 April at which the issue of coastal erosion at Magilligan Point was raised; I found it a very informative discussion. While I don’t underestimate the impact that coastal erosion can have on those directly affected by it, I think most people will understand and accept that coastal erosion is a natural process, and that it’s going to continue. So the challenge for everyone involved, including the Executive, comes in managing that inevitability, and to do so in a strategic way.

“The Executive’s position on coastal erosion and, where appropriate, protection from it, is commonly referred to as the “Bateman Formula”, whereby central Government departments have a responsibility to construct, maintain and repair the coastal defences in their possession. For my Department’s part, it has a very specific role solely as the marine licensing authority, where it considers any construction/development proposals below the high water mark. Of course, the potential implications for the adjacent coastline, and for coastal processes, is an important consideration in ensuring that robust decisions are taken.

“The role of planning is also essential, and here too my Department will ensure that it continues to play its part in relation to coastal development with, for example, publication of a Strategic Planning Policy Statement shortly. Local councils are, of course, now responsible for determining any planning applications for development along the coast.

“I will continue to do everything I can within my powers, and those of my Department, to contribute to the management of and mitigation of coastal erosion.”