Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sisyphus clears the sand at Ballyholme

Every month or so North Down Borough council sends a backhoe digger and a lad with a shovel down to Ballyholme Beach to clear the sand from the lower part of the promenade. They dump the sand in mounds, as seen to the left and below; these were much bigger a day ago but the tide has already eaten most of them away. Their Canute inspired efforts are completely pointless; within a few days the sand has already starting building up again.

When I were a lad there wasn't any sand on this part of the path. Is it a sign of global warming, with rising sea levels driving the sand onto shore? Perhaps the promenade has become eroded by the constant crashing of sea, sand and stone? Maybe.

However, the failure of the council to upkeep the groynes is the most likely culprit. The entire landscape at Ballyholme Beach was a magnificent piece of Victorian engineering, with its raised promenades, sea walls, sweeping grass banks, bridges and elevated roads above. Central to the enterprise are the aforementioned groynes. Recognizing that the tide sweeps along the bay from west to east, these sea defences were added at regular intervals to prevent the sand from building up at the Groomsport side of the beach.

Sadly the century-old groynes are succumbing to the elements & are in dire need of repair. I read in the local paper that this would cost £40,000. It doesn't seem a lot to save a genuine tourist amenity, particularly as the water service are currently installing new drains to (hopefully) solve the pollution problems.

Meanwhile, the council has just voted in an 8.1% increase in rates, the second largest rise in the province after Fermanagh. In order to save a little money, £14,0000 to be exact, our representatives voted that toilet blocks should no longer be opened during the evening. One councillor, who manages to combine his local duties with a well-paid MLA job at Stormont, claimed that families or tourists wouldn't use the facilities, only "late night revellers." Yes, on the long summer evenings in June & July everyone in this town goes to bed at 6pm leaving Bangor in the hands of crazed drunks hanging out at the bogs.

I have heard dark rumours that the monster, monstrously expensive new wind turbine at Balloo isn't fit for purpose. I'm all for renewable energy - as long as it works. Maybe our DUP members have installed a deliberate 'own goal' to fuel Sammy Wilson's righteous crusade for more carbon emissions.

Here's the path in question; two days after the clearance team have left the sand is already starting to build up on the left hand side.

Click on the photos and they become huge.
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whynotsmile said...

You have to question whether local councils have even the most vague idea of how the sea operates.

Every now and again they come to clear all the seaweed off the beach near my parents' house; they scoop it up and pile it into big mounds at the edge of the beach.

One of two things then happen:

1. A storm blows up, with attendant high tides, which sweep the seaweed back into the sea and then dump it all over the beach again.

2. It gets hot and sunny and the whole heap stinks to high heaven.

bresker said...

In fairness, they do clean the seaweed off Ballyholme beach, with a machine like a combine harvester. And they don't leave it in big mounds. Where it goes I do not know. It makes good fertilizer, it's what they use on the Aran islands to fertilize their spud fields. So hopefully they put it to use. But at least they're doing something right.