A total of 35 locations around the National Park experienced damage in the early January storms, ranging from the accumulation of debris to the loss of coastal land and dunes. Inland, flooding and high winds resulted in severe gully erosion to some bridleways and brought trees down across paths.
Although the majority of repairs or diversions had been completed at these locations, some suffered further damage during the early February storms and some work will have to be repeated.
National Park Authority Access and Rights of Way Manager Anthony Richards said: “Repairing the storm damage is a priority in order to make sites and paths as safe and accessible as possible. Some repairs will be temporary and more permanent work will take place after the late February high tides.
“The emphasis on repair work on car parks, beach access paths and the Coast Path in readiness for the main visitor season is in the interest of all users, local communities and not least, the local economy.
“Public safety is our primary concern and the Authority is advising people to stay away from dune areas as erosion from the high tides has resulted in many dunes becoming unstable and in danger of collapse.”
Following an update to the National Park Authority on February 5th, Chairman Cllr Mike James and Authority Members thanked officers for their prompt response to the damage and for their continued hard work.
Cllr James added: “I would also like to extend a thank you to members of the local community who have volunteered to help with the clean-up effort, including Coleg Ceredigion students who cleared debris at Newport Parrog and Newport Sands and pupils from Cardigan School who helped at Poppit Sands.”
While every effort is being made to keep access open, more complex issues at two popular locations at opposite ends of the county have resulted in a prolonged closure as further investigations and expert advice is taken in order to find the best possible long-term solution.
As a result, the access path down to Caerfai beach near St Davids remains closed as a landslide has undermined the beach access footpath midway down the slope.
On the Coast Path at the Penally end of Tenby South Beach, the viewing platform and beach access steps were severely damaged by the January storm and a further three metres of Coast Path were lost due to dune erosion. An alternative route is in place and, until the dune system has stabilised, it is not possible to fully assess the options or develop a long-term solution.
Sites and paths considered dangerous or out of repair for their intended use such as wheelchair suitable paths have been temporarily removed from the Park’s website until they can be repaired. In each case an explanation is provided for this interruption via on-site signage.
National Park Rangers are working with Keep Wales Tidy, the National Trust and Pembrokeshire County Council to coordinate a series of volunteer clean ups of beaches and public land on beach heads. Residents of local communities and voluntary wardens have also been turning out to help with this task.
A funding bid has been awarded by the Welsh Government to help cover the costs of the clean-up to the Wales Coast Path, while all other avenues of funding are being explored to limit the cost to the Authority.
For up to date information and advice following the storm damage please visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.