Cornwall has been witnessing an unprecedented number of storms, coupled with some of the highest tides of the year, over the past few weeks and, like many other settlements, harbours, cliffs and beaches around our coast, Mullion Cove has taken a severe battering
The harbour at Mullion Cove takes the full force of the sea and over the years the Trust has spent significant sums in maintenance and repair of the harbour walls, including over a million pounds during the 1990s. Looking to an uncertain future with increased frequency and strength of storms and rising sea levels as a result of climate change, the Trust commissioned a study in 2004 into the future of the harbour which looked at its structure, what climate change could mean for it and was steered by a stakeholder group which included users of the harbour, members of the local community, statutory organisations and other harbour managers. The study showed that the harbour was in better condition than we thought, but that at some time in the future a storm or series of storms could do such damage that repair or maintenance would not be viable in the future.
The first damage this year occurred in early January, taking out some of the granite paving setts from the western breakwater and knocking out some stones on the southern breakwater. We discovered that these sets had been laid on sand, so once the sea got to them it was able to rapidly remove hundreds of them, flicking them into the harbour.
There was some respite in the weather between the storms and during that time Trust staff, volunteers and harbour users got stuck in and were able to salvage some of the granites at low tide.With the harbour in a vulnerable state, and with advice from structural engineers, contractors swiftly undertook some emergency repairs, sealing the edge of the damaged section to hopefully prevent further damage occurring.
Unfortunately to little avail as the storm of the 5th of February tore into the harbour and took more granites out of the western breakwater and inflicted some significant damage to the southern breakwater which we have not been able to assess yet. Our engineers are on standby for a period of calm weather when they will be able to see what damage has occurred before we will be able to make any decisions about the next steps to take.
National Trust Property Manager