Holyhead breakwater

Stena Line Plans to Save Holyhead Port Breakwater

Plans to save the port of Holyhead from breakwater breach have been submitted after reports that erosion was risking its future.

The Grade-II listed Holyhead port has been facing the risk of collapse due to excessive erosion to the rubble base, according to Anglesey council. The Victorian sea defence, which has been standing for almost 150 years, measures 1.7 miles (2.5km), making it the largest breakwater in the UK. It acts as the port’s sole defence against turbulent weather.

The structure has seen excessive damage in recent years with its foundations gradually being damaged by the onslaught of waves.

According to a recent planning application:

"The breakwater forms part of the essential infrastructure for the operation of the Port, providing shelter from a more extreme wave climate to the berthing ferries and other vessels. Without the breakwater it is likely that the wave conditions would increase to the point that the operation of the ferries is no longer viable, resulting in the closure of the port and the loss of the international link to Ireland for Wales and England."

Since 2017, a number of official consultations and meetings have been held between the owners of the breakwater Stena Line, the Welsh Government and Anglesey council in order to establish an appropriate refurbishment scheme.

According to experts, failure to fix the breakwater would mean that the port would no longer be able to function, making ferry operations impossible due to uncertain weather conditions. A report has been put forward to assess the damage and has estimated the structure could be breached within fifteen years unless necessary repairs are undertaken.

Stena Line stated in 2013 that they have been keeping up with the ports’ general upkeep, which has cost in excess of £150,000 a year in maintenance costs.

Although the refurbishment scheme has been jointly developed by Stena Line, Anglesey Council and the Welsh government, the actual works to the breakwater will be commissioned and led by the ferry company.

Whilst the official operations have not been revealed, the planned refurbishment is expected to consist of two layers of 20m³ Tretapod concrete armour being injected into the seaward side of the breakwater to restore the water damaged stonework. The leeward side can expect an additional layer of concrete over a distance of approximately 10-15m in order to prevent any further erosion to the rubble mound.

It is unknown at this stage how long the works will take and how much funding is available, with the restructuring being estimated to be completed between March 2020 - October 2026.

Reports have assured:

"Once the refurbishment is complete, further maintenance of the rubble mound would be minimal and less than the maintenance activities that are currently being undertaken."

02 October 2019

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