Harbour faces an uncertain future due to pressure on its sea defences

Cornwall’s Mullion Harbour is facing an uncertain future due to the gradual erosion of its limited sea defences. Sitting on the Lizard, the harbour, which was given to the National Trust in 1945, has proved costly: £1m has been spent on repairs in the last 15 years alone.

Housing a small fishing community and receiving approximately 80,000 visitors a year, the harbour is very much in use. However, the trust says that once repair costs become unviable, they will stop maintaining it, leaving it to sea.

The reason lying behind the decision is the pressure that global warming and rising sea levels are exerting on coastal regions and sea defences. Realising this, the trust commissioned a report to assess the structure of the harbour walls and advise as to future options for its long-term management.

Deciding that the installation of an offshore breakwater was impracticable, they have committed to maintain and repair the harbour for an unspecified period of time, but not its breakwaters. The reparation stage will begin after Easter, with £150,000 of work to take place. The trust will then spend roughly £5,000 a year on the harbour, until they deem future repairs to the harbour unviable. At this stage they will begin a ‘managed retreat’ from Mullion, which will eventually return to being an undeveloped bay.