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Saving Looe Hill. A group of residents living on Looe Hill are campaigning to save Looe Hill from collapse If you would like to know more, please contact the group. Email: info@dasra.co.uk

September 2021

A group of residents living on Looe Hill have received the following information from Cornwall Council regarding the monitoring of the level of erosion of a vulnerable section of Looe Hill.  The Council's contractors, Cormac, have released  the results of a ground investigation that they have  implemented over the past 10-11 months to better understand the nature of instability affecting the road.  The report sets out their methods and findings:  

- Periodic visual inspection of the highway and adjacent coastal slope to identify any signs of deterioration, developing instability, etc;

- Pin readings of previously identified cracking in the highway (no significant changes over the monitoring period to date, no new cracks observed);

- Inclinometer deflection readings taken at borehole locations - the readings to date do not suggest that significant slope movements have occurred over the past 10-11 months.

Cormac did find some evidence to suggest highway surface water run-off overtopping the edge of the highway is causing local and gradual shallow sloughing (the existence of an ~150mm drop adjacent to the leaning fence) of the vegetated highway verge/crest opposite one of the installed boreholes (BH1) and this is contributing towards the fence bowing visibly outwards. The available field evidence observed elsewhere along the slope span in addition to the inclinometer measurements taken to date (measuring slope deformation), supports this conclusion with the reported defects (highway cracking, bowing fence) not attributed to a potential deep-seated global instability mechanism at present. Tension cracks visible in the road surface course may be related to a combination of tensions induced by the bowing fence, shallow erosional failure and likely subordinate vehicle loading of the pavement as it is  a very well used road. Tension cracks haven’t noticeably changed in length or aperture over the monitoring period.  

The cumulative results of the monitoring program will be reviewed with Cornwall Council in Autumn 2021 and at this point a decision will be made on next steps. Two of the borehole installations allow monitoring by inclinometer and therefore the collection of readings can be resumed at any point should any signs of significant instability be identified at a later date.  While the residents have welcomed evidence that sloughing is not due to deep-seated rock instability at present,  they  propose an active response to the review to ensure that measures are immediately  taken to prevent future overtopping.   To keep aware of updates, please follow https://www.dasra.co.uk/campaigns/looe-hill-coastal-erosion.  Email:  info@dasra.co.uk

April 2020: Developments. Following Cornwall Council's County and the Environment Agency's confirmation that Looe Hill is designated within an area of "Managed Realignment" in the local Shoreline Management Plan (see below 20 Dec), the next step is for a feasibility study to be undertaken with a view to possible remedial work. Cormac were due to close the hill for two weeks in April to conduct the investigative work but postponed due to Coronavirus lockdown. The Looe Hill Residents Group are hopeful that this work will be carried out in due course and that it will lead to remedial work also being carried out.

20 December 2019: Developments: Following our request to the parish council, they are supporting Looe Hill through the Neighbourhood Planning process and they are requesting the Highways Agency address the drainage issues, in order to protect the cliff top.

We are hoping that effective drainage will slow down erosion to the area of cliff top below the road which is being eroded by surface water run-off.

We have also been informed that the Environment Agency and County Council agree that Looe Hill should be included within the Seaton and Downderry Managed Realignment policy as per the Shoreline Management Plan.

As a result, the next step is for a feasibility review to be undertaken.

The Environment agency has also added Looe Hill to their priority list of coastal communities at risk.

We are grateful to the Parish, Council, County Council and to the Environment Agency for supporting us and ask that they continue to do so. However, whilst we are really pleased with the progress being made there is a long way to go before effective sea defences are installed and the road re-enforced and we would ask you all to continue to support us.

19 October 2019 : A small part of Looe Hill is affected by coastal erosion and run-off surface water that destabilises the cliff below. Without proactive intervention, continuing subsidence will eventually result in collapse of the road. The sewage line beneath the road would entail considerable cost to relocate.

The impacts would be severe for the residents of Looe Hill, for other local users and tourists alike. Looe Hill forms part of the nationally important South West Coast Path. For residents, loss of through access to Downderry, with its bus route, school, surgery, shop and community facilities will require a lengthy detour via No Man’s Land and Hessenford.

Emergency services currently use Looe Hill and would be forced to take a time-consuming detour.

None of this needs to happen. The area of risk is a small section, just to the west of the present sea wall, where the cliff is encroaching close to the road. Protection of the base of this cliff, possibly by rock armour to absorb impact of the waves, is vital.

Cornwall’s Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) designates an area west of Seaton Beach as “Managed Realignment” (MR), and the stretch requiring attention falls within this zone.

Looe Hill residents have requested that the Parish Council vigorously support investment to protect Looe Hill infrastructure, and that this should be stated emphatically in the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan.

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