Non-energy Benefits of West Somerset lagoon
There are some important non-energy benefits that West Somerset Lagoon will provide. These include:
- Protection of the coast against flooding and from damage to coast defences from storm waves and in the longer term from sea level rise.
- Employment in both construction and in operation.
- The potential for increased tourism and for water based recreation such as sailing.
- The potential for a marina at Minehead with access in all tides.
The West Somerset Lagoon scheme will allow control of the water levels in the lagoon, thus providing protection from flooding due to storm surges. Also, large waves will be excluded from the lagoon by the enclosure walls, thus preventing the continued erosion of the coast and the serious damage to property that is now occurring frequently. Some examples of the effects of coastal erosion include:
- Watchet Harbour has suffered seriously from erosion and damage in recent years.
- The railway is now threatened by coast erosion and the popular Coast Path has had to be diverted several times.
- The Blue Anchor Hotel has had to close, because the cliff face is now very close to the building and mobile homes have had to be moved.
The lagoon will extend from just west of Minehead to east of Watchet and therefore will provide protection to about 14 km of coast including Minehead, Blue Anchor, and Watchet and the harbours there.
For the longer term, the scheme will provide protection from the expected rise in sea level. The scheme is designed to accommodate a sea level rise of 0.7m, which is the rise currently predicted by the Environment Agency. If this sea level rise is predicted to be exceeded, the height of the enclosure wall could be increased in the future.
The average numbers of people that are expected to be employed in construction each year during the 5 years of construction are shown below. Also, there is likely to be significant employment in providing services to the workforce (not included in the estimates below).
|Location||Construction Civil Engineeering & Buildings||Mechanical & Electrical Installation|
|Offshore West Somerset||2000||200|
|Onshore West Somerset||250||50|
|Construction years in ports||6000||50|
A significant proportion of these employees may come from outside West Somerset and will therefore need accommodation. The potential use of the various holiday accommodation sites along the coast will be examined.
Training will be provided, in order to provide as many employees as possible from the local area.
The average numbers of people employed per year to operate the West Somerset Lagoon facility is estimated at around 100. In addition there is likely to be employment in services and in a marina and other leisure facilities.