A detailed report prepared by Donaghadee Community Development Community Association (DCDA) and Donaghadee Sailing Club has highlighted the risks to the town’s famous harbour and seafront from rising sea levels and storm surges. Based on a survey of 20 separate technical and academic research studies between 1980 and January 2024.  The report was launched this afternoon (Wednesday 27th March) in Donaghadee Sailing Club before an audience of elected representatives and Departmental and council officials.

Climate Change is causing an increase in sea levels and combined with the growing frequency of storm surges mean that the town’s famous harbour, lighthouse along with seafront housing and businesses are under threat of extensive flooding. Studies by Queen’s University in 1980 and confirmed by RPS, the environmental consultancy, in 2020 found compelling evidence that remedial measures were needed, including the creation of a breakwater outside the harbour, to protect much of the seafront and make the harbour fit for purpose. This new report includes science based flood scenarios showing the current and projected vulnerability of the town and its coastal front to damage and erosion.

Maps in the Report forecast the danger to the seafront and critical infrastructure along the A2 and A48 coast roads and the threat to the harbour and services such as telecoms, sewage, water which run under the roads. In addition to the properties and businesses which will be affected there is the likelihood of widespread disruption to the greater Ards peninsula down the A2 and A48 including access to emergency services, schools, healthcare, business and recreation. Donaghadee harbour and seafront is already experiencing flooding with associated risk to lives and property at least 2-4 times each year from damage from storm surges and wave action driven by high winds.

Chair of the Association, local businessman Denis Waterworth, says “This report is a wake-up call to our local Ards and North Down Borough Council who own the harbour and to the Executive that ‘doing nothing’ is no longer an option. The harbour and its lighthouse are listed buildings and much of the town centre is a Conservation Area.  The surrounding area is protected as an area of Special Scientific Interest and Outer Ards Special Area designations. Last year the Sunday Times declared Donaghadee the best town in Northern Ireland in which to live and this year we were still in their top three. That reputation will be literally undermined by Climate Change
if there is no action by the authorities.”

Joint author of the Report and Sailing Club Commodore, Ross Bennett, adds: “We have made recommendations that in the short term would improve the facilities and safety of the harbour. These include improved signage and a floating fendering system for visiting boats and a floating pontoon at the South pier for the safety and convenience of local berth holders.  But the real substantive work, for the longer term, requires the Council to undertake an economic appraisal of measures to protect the harbour and seafront walls from rising sea levels and storm surges. The Executive also needs to make money available to protect the entrance to the harbour with an outer breakwater to make the harbour safe and to protect seafront businesses and houses.”

“Overall, the Executive and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) need to place a stronger priority on climate change and its effect on coastal erosion.  Ards and North Down Borough Council must press the Department as a matter of urgency to take action as the council has responsibility for the longest coastal frontage in Northern Ireland.” says Ross Bennett.

For further information please contact John Caldwell Hon. Sec of DCDA on Mob +447762076987



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