Thousands of tonnes of granite rock is starting to arrive in Blue Anchor, near Minehead, as Somerset Council’s coastal defence works begin.

Some 13,500 tonnes of rock armour will be placed against the cliffs on the West Somerset coast to reduce continuing erosion and protect a section of the B3191 road – with most of the granite arriving by ship.

Somerset West and Taunton Council carried out emergency works to stabilise the wall and reduce the risk of collapse in 2020.

The £3.8m permanent scheme will provide support to the walls and mudstone cliff, as well as a section of road. The fragility of this section of  coastline was underlined recently with the indefinite closure of the B3191 at Cleeve Hill, near Watchet.

Rock delivery is expected to take 32 days, with most rock arriving by the vessel, the Hagland Saga. It will collect 4,500 tonnes of rock from Glensanda Quarry in western Scotland and travel to Blue Anchor, arriving at the start of May.

The rock will be transferred onto a barge and deposited on the beach at each high tide, subject to suitable weather. The rock will be moved up the beach at low tide.

The vessel will return to western Scotland to collect a further 4,500 tonnes of rock and return to Blue Anchor Bay, repeating the process until all 13,500 tonnes has been delivered.

Access to the beach may be restricted at times and the public are asked to stay clear of rock piles.

Once all rock has been delivered and placed, the upper slope of the cliff will be reprofiled, with all work expected to finish by the end of September 2023. The scheme has been designed by WSP and will be delivered by contractor Kier and subcontractor Kelston Sparkes.

Cllr Sarah Dyke, Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change said: “I am delighted to see these important works finally take place, benefiting the communities in West Somerset. The scheme will provide a more permanent defence against coastal erosion.”

Cllr Mike Rigby, Lead Member for Transport and Digital, added: “Arranging the vessel has been quite a complex and lengthy logistical operation and I’m pleased we are now seeing that hard work come to fruition to protect part of the B3191 road close to Blue Anchor.

“This work will deliver vital infrastructure protection in Somerset. My thanks to the team for organising what has been a really difficult project.”

Heavy machinery moving rock on beach

About this article

May 2, 2023

Debbie Rundle