The first breakwater at Yarmouth was built in 1847 and created a sheltered harbour, helping to protect the estuary and parts of the town from coastal flooding and erosion.
The current breakwater is made from old railway line and sleepers, which need to be replaced every few years. In the future, the breakwater will need to be improved or replaced to cope with increased storms and higher sea level. Yarmouth Pier and the groynes along the coast also help to break up the waves from the Solent.
Coastal defence needs long-term planning because it can be very expensive and time consuming to develop. Building large structures can have an impact further along the coast, causing problems elsewhere. This together with options for alternative ways of adapting to coastal change must be considered.
Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners help to develop long-term strategies such as the Island’s Shoreline Management Plan and the West Wight Coastal Flood and Erosion Risk Management Strategy because it is important to plan for the future now so that the harbour and the town continue to be protected. The harbour also helped to set up the local Coastal Defence Working Group and plays a key role in the Yarmouth Community Flood Plan. This group published two very useful reports on coastal change in Yarmouth – one in 2010 and one in 2014. These can be viewed below: