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Alderney breakwater wins reprieve

The 150 year old breakwater looks set to stay.

ALDERNEY'S HISTORIC breakwater looks set to be saved after an independent inquiry this week dismissed plans by neighbouring Channel Island Guernsey to replace the 150 year old structure.

Recommendations by the three strong panel of inquiry must now be approved by the Guernsey parliament. Under a post Second World War agreement it funds such capital costs.

However, as the panel spent over a year investigating and consulting on options for the breakwater, it is felt unlikely that its views will be overturned.

The inquiry was set up in June 1997 by the Joint Guernsey/Alderney Consultative Council after a public outcry over the Guernsey Board of Administration's proposal to reduce annual maintenance costs by abandoning the breakwater. The Board's view was that it was not cost effective to replace material being eroded from the breakwater and feared that in a severe storm large sections could be breached (NCE 5 March).

But the panel's report concluded that 'from the standpoint of the engineering, marine and economic aspects there is insufficient evidence to support the preferred option for construction of a new breakwater.' It recommended that maintenance on the structure be continued and that further survey work be carried into ways to strengthen the breakwater.

Alderney states engineer Steve Price said the report backed Alderney's view that Guernsey's 'zero maintenance' solution to build a shorter reinforced concrete structure for £16.6M did not address all the options.

He said that maintenance - which costs around £500,000 a year - would continue and that once the report was approved, a full survey would be carried out. 'That is the most important thing - until we know exactly what is there, it would be foolhardy to make any long term decisions.'

The 870m long breakwater was built by second president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, James Walker, between 1847 and 1864.

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