Neath Port Talbot Council and its contractor Knights Brown are making good progress on the vital scheme to repair and strengthen the iconic Aberavon Seafront Promenade.
The work is part funded by the Welsh Government through its Coastal Risk Management Programme – first announced by the Welsh Government in 2014.
It aims to reduce flood and coastal risk to more than 18,000 properties across Wales through projects to repair, replace and create coastal flood alleviation assets.
The hugely popular promenade with its well-used cycle track is more than a mile (2.1km) long and is supported by concrete walls on the beach side.
The coastal defence project involves structural concrete repairs to the existing sea walls, toe protection (repairs to the lower part of the sea wall involving 30,000 tonnes of rock armour) and improved access which will include a new slipway at the promenade’s western end.
Work has been completed on the rock armour protection work, structural investigation and concrete steps. The contractor is now focusing on completing concrete repairs, a new access ramp, surfacing repairs, street furniture and handrailing repairs.
During the project, Knights Brown has provided several training and upskilling opportunities including working with the Youth Justice and Early Intervention Team to provide work experience opportunities. Also, an engineering trainee was recruited locally following work experience with the local authority and an apprentice has been recruited via NPT Pathways.
As well as providing practical support for schools (before the health emergency) and a range of local projects, the contractors have been communicating with residents and businesses potentially affected by operations. This has involved a bespoke noticeboard bringing the project to life for youngsters, encouraging safe viewing and potentially influencing young people to consider civil engineering as a career.
The project team thanks members of the public for their continued support during the construction works.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Engineering, Cllr Ted Latham said:
“This is essential engineering work which will repair the effects of coastal erosion and ensure the seafront and promenade continue to be a major attraction for locals and visitors alike for many years to come.”
Andrew Eilbeck, Divisional Director for Knights Brown, added:
“Our efforts to be accepted as part of the community of Aberavon are going well. Despite being in close proximity to a number of small businesses and delivering the rock armour to the beach by way of residential streets, we have been permitted to go about our business without complaint.
“This is a credit to our site team and the people of Aberavon. We’ve also enjoyed some amazing sunrises and sunsets – an added bonus of working in such a beautiful location.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said of the scheme:
“This is the first project of the Welsh Government’s ambitious £150m Coastal Risk Management Programme to begin construction and I am delighted with the progress made by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and its contractor Knights Brown.
“This is a very significant project, forming part of our Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Programme, which looks to safeguard flood risk sites across Wales. We recently changed guidance around the FCERM Programme, allowing local authorities to bring more flood defence projects forward, giving them the support they need to carry out vital forward planning on works similar to those at Aberavon.
“Protection from coastal erosion is also one of the key elements of our strategy as we look to respond to the climate emergency, and protect Wales’ coastal communities from some of the more severe impacts of our changing climate.
“As well as strengthening the sea defences, the improvements will bring wider benefits to the local community, offering invaluable work experience to local students and trainees and ensure that the promenade will continue to attract the many visitors who enjoy the Aberavon seafront each year.
“I would also like to thank those working on construction of the project for their continued work – they are performing vital work during a difficult time, and I am sure I am not alone in wanting to thank them for their efforts.”