INVESTIGATIONS are underway into how to create and fund a viable long term solution to coastal erosion impacting infrastructure from Watchet to Blue Anchor.

Coastal erosion has long been issue along this stretch, with particular focus falling on the risks to The Blue Anchor Hotel which is now perilously close to the cliff edge, as well as the B3191 at Blue Anchor and Cleeve Hill.

Somerset West and Taunton Council is looking to work with Somerset County Council on a long term coastal protection scheme for these areas and seek funding from the Environment Agency.

A report on the issue compiled by Chris Hall, SWT’s assistant director for climate change and assets, states that there are a number of properties as well as the road at risk, and failing to take action will result in damage beyond just the physical losses, impacting on the communities of Blue Anchor and Watchet, along with the tourism industry upon which they rely.

In January 2014, West Somerset Council put in a bid to the Environment Agency for a coastal protection scheme to protect the Blue Anchor Hotel and a range of other assets including the B3191, however the bid failed on technical and valuation reasons. In December 2014, West Somerset Council agreed to cease any further work on the project due to the complexities involved.

Mr Hall said: “The situation at Blue Anchor has deteriorated in line with erosion predictions, and the hotel is now within two meters of the visible terminal crack on the cliff.

“This erosion rate not only places the hotel at risk but also the highway infrastructure, and in turn the route integrity from Blue Anchor to Watchet.”

It is understood the preferred option for the Blue Anchor section of the road is to protect the existing highway through a coastal defence engineering scheme, while at Cleeve Hill the preference is to realign the road to the south.

Mr Hall continues: “The option to protect the road can only be delivered if there is sufficient land on which to build a protection scheme, this will likely include grading the cliff to a suitable angle.

“With the erosion continuing the land left to deliver a scheme is diminishing. The Environment Agency view is that there is no temporary scheme that can be put in place and the only way forward is to move straight to the delivery of a permanent solution.”

However the report concludes there are three questions which must be resolved before the project can be delivered, including how the schemes will be paid for, who will be liable for them and who will fund future maintenance.