THE cost of repairing damage to Watchet’s harbour wall could exceed £1m, according to the district council.

The ‘splash point’ on the harbour’s northern wall partially collapsed before Christmas, and was subsequently damaged further by Storm Ciara in mid-February.

Somerset West and Taunton Council has undertaken emergency repairs to the wall while commissioning work to improve both the splash point and the East Quay in the town.

The council has now confirmed the cost of repairing the splash point could run well into seven figures by the time all the improvements are completed.

A breakdown was published ahead of a full council meeting which was due to be held in Taunton on Tuesday (March 31), before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Chris Hall, the council’s localities manager, said a total of £106,000 had been spent on the splash point since the first damage occurred in December – with £16,000 doing on design work and £90,000 on construction.

He said in his written report: “Following Storm Ciara in February, the temporary repair was lost and with it the remainder of the 1860s wall.

“This exposed the East Quay to losses of land on the quayside and presented a risk to the marina wall due to its proximity.

“Further emergency work was undertaken to protect the marina in the first instance, [and was] clearly aimed at protecting the wider community of Watchet.

“The risk of a catastrophic failure of the inner marina wall, and the failure of previous temporary works, meant repair options that fell short of a permanent solution were discounted as they too were likely to fail.”

Since the February storm damage, design work and repairs totalling £175,000 have been carried out – and a further £825,000 is expected to fund the permanent solution, bringing the total cost to £1,106,000.

The council voted in January to grant £100,000 towards designing permanent repairs for the splash point out of its capital programme.

To cover the remaining costs, the council is set to approve an additional £1,006,000 for the project – of which £106,000 will come from its existing reserves and £900,000 will come from external borrowing through its capital programme. 

Mr Hall said: “The final repair will include a smooth-faced sea wall to move the power of the tidal impact to a more appropriate location, rather than try and break its power at this vulnerable point.

“This wall will include a parapet which will be built to a height not less than that of the old wall.

“It will be built with future sea level rises in mind and the foundations will be capable of taking an increase in height.

“The final design will incorporate a significant amount of rock armour to the east of the new wall, joining up with the next area of protection.”

A decision on the splash point funding will be taken by the council in the coming weeks.

The council also voted in January to allocate £640,000 towards reinforcing and improving the East Quay wall, with £100,000 going on the design work and £540,000 on the actual construction.

Mr Hall said there was no change in the amount allocated for the East Quay work, stating: “The budget for works on the East Quay reinforcements should not be confused with the Splash Point emergency work.

“While physically in close proximity, they are wholly separate for budgeting purposes.”