Storm-battered Portrane home teeters on the brink

by Sylvia Pownall

Residents of the Burrow in Portrane are living in fear of their homes being washed away with the next storm.

Volunteers made frantic efforts to shore up properties at the weekend after gale-force winds and sea surges took chunks out of the coastline.

Two years ago the council declared one house unsafe and it was later demolished – and now others are fearing the same fate.

David Shevlin, whose property is now teetering on the cliff edge, said he is worried that he will lose his home while still having to pay off the mortgage for it.

He told Dublin Gazette: “I’m fire-fighting on two sides and people are coming out to help me. There is private property being washed away here.

“My sewerage tank fell onto the beach and we have a temporary system at the moment, but that is not going to last very long.

“I’ve lost 20 metres of established ground. It’s very stressful for the whole family. Even if we have to leave we will still have to pay the mortgage.”

David said his family was one of several due to meet with Fingal County Council this week to discuss measures to slow coastal erosion.

However he said he was not optimistic about the outcome since the concrete ‘Seabees’ installed have done little to halt the advance of the sea.

More than 20 homes are at risk of falling into the sea and the authorities have spent two years trying to come up with a workable solution.

A report published in March recommends installing eight groynes – fishtail-shaped embankments – 70m out to sea to slow the tides and protect wildlife.

But Fingal County Council must apply for planning permission from An Bord Pleanala for the €15m project and residents fear time is running out.

David Shevlin is heartbroken at the prospect of the home he shares with wife Sharon, his two teenage daughters and stepson being lost.

He said: “We are in a very precarious position. When the sea comes in it’s like your trying to protect a sandcastle.”

A recent study shows the situation is far worse than previously thought and rapid coastal erosion due to advanced climate change is accelerating.

Engineers found 750,000 cubic metres of sand have been lost since 2014 and the Portrane coastline has been eroded by up to 50m in the past five decades. And experts warn another 100m will be washed away by 2100 if nothing is done.

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