North West Wales

Legal action threat over coastal retreat of Fairbourne

Fairbourne in Gwynedd
Image caption Fairbourne in Gwynedd is one of 50 communities at risk from rising sea levels

Residents of a coastal community in Gwynedd are considering legal action against plans that would see their village abandoned to the sea.

Fairbourne is expected to enter into "managed retreat" in 2025 when the council will stop maintaining defences due to rising sea levels.

But residents said they had not been consulted, and the plan needed further research.

Gwynedd council said it had been open with residents throughout the process.

More than 400 homes are expected to be abandoned in the village by 2055 as part of the council's shoreline management plan (SMP) policy.

The authority adopted the plan last year after it accepted it could no longer defend Fairbourne in the long term.

But resident Peter Cole said the news had come as a huge shock to residents.

"We have had a very serious wake-up call," Mr Cole said.

He said although the plan deals with the future, estate agents are saying properties in Fairbourne are not suitable for sale now.

"They [the council] decided this plan, but they never came to speak to us - they still haven't."

He added: "This isn't just an issue for Fairbourne - there are other communities around Wales in a similar position.

"The way we're treated will set the scene for other communities after us."

Legal challenge

The community has formed the Fairbourne Facing Change Community Action Group to identify the issues it wants to see addressed and to explore how they can be dealt with.

Residents have also written to First Minister Carwyn Jones outlining their opposition, and say they are looking to launch a legal challenge to Gwynedd council's plans.

A spokesman for the council said it had communicated the plans through community councils, and meetings held recently were the first step in raising awareness of the consequences of coastal changes locally.

"Rather than ignore the inevitable, the shoreline management plan for the west of Wales focuses in detail on how these changes will affect coastal communities along the 180-mile length of the county's coastline," the spokesman said.

"Now that the work of presenting the SMP document to the community and town councils across Gwynedd has been completed, the next stage will focus on presenting information to the wider community."

A community newsletter will be sent out and three public meetings to discuss the plans will be held later this year, he added.

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