THE issue surrounding the removal of quarry rocks and the restoration of sand and groynes to Llandudno’s North Shore beach was debated in the Senedd this week.

Conwy County Borough Council’s cabinet has agreed to support a non-sand option for North Shore.

Welsh Government has approved the council’s funding application for a detailed design of the non-sand option.

But following a petition launched by Cllr Turner last year, which garnered more than 12,000 signatures, a debate on the matter took place in the Senedd on Wednesday (March 20).


Welsh Government won't fund return of sand to Llandudno’s North Shore

During the debate, Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders, an advocate for sand returning to the beach, said: “In 2014, 50,000 tonnes of dirty quarry rock were dumped without notice or consultation.

“Even town councillors didn’t know. There was no transparency, accountability and responsibility. We are now left with an unsightly, dangerous and inaccessible beach.

“There was an option to see sand restored. The Llandudno Coastal Forum wanted that; Conwy councillors wanted that.

“However, once again, it came down to the cheapest option of constructing a wall, and the potential of adding more rock.

“That is most unacceptable. It will add insult to injury and will undermine Llandudno as the ‘queen of Welsh resorts’.

“Tourism is Llandudno’s main economic driver. It’s the bedrock of the local economy, and supports everything, from hotels and holiday lets to restaurants and cafes.

“We must protect maintain and foster this important tourism trade.”

North Wales Pioneer: North Shore, LlandudnoNorth Shore, Llandudno (Image: Newsquest)

In August 2022, Welsh Government rejected Conwy County Borough Council’s proposal for funding to see sand returned to North Shore.

According to a report published by the council, Welsh Government’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management branch stated that the return of sand to North Shore “does not appear to provide any additional flood risk management benefits”.

Following public concerns of deposition of cobble on North Shore in 2014, the council’s cabinet established the Llandudno Coastal Forum to find a sustainable policy for beach management of North Shore.

Mrs Finch-Saunders added: “Too often, hoteliers tell me that visitors staying, in particular children, are falling on these rocks, causing injury.

“The beach is completely inaccessible now in the rock area to children, the elderly, and the disabled. Moreover, aesthetically, it is a complete eyesore.”

Llŷr Gruffydd, North Wales MS, accepted that the beach “doesn’t feel or look right without that sweep of golden sand across it”, but said that the “first priority” should be to protect 5,000 businesses and homes from flooding.

In Llandudno, he said, it is predicted that sea levels will rise by about one metre within the next 100 years.

Mr Gruffydd said the documents he had seen regarding the plans stated that any scheme to restore sand to the beach would cost “more than twice as much” as those not involving sand.

He added: “The economic climate doesn’t put us in a position where there is funding available for many of our basic services, never mind these things.

“That is not to say that something can’t be done in the future.”

Carolyn Thomas, also a MS for North Wales, said she is also in favour of a sandy North Shore, but that Welsh Government no longer has funding for such schemes.

Indeed, she that, following the loss of EU funding post-Brexit, restoring sand to the beach is less feasible “unless the UK Government steps in”.

Laura Anne Jones, South Wales East MS, said that, during her own visit to North Shore, “you could feel the swell of support to bring back sand”.

She added: “Whatever money that you are arguing it will cost, you will see that coming back in droves (through tourism).

“As a mother of young children, it would be far more attractive, if that beach had sand on it, to go and visit Llandudno.”

Julie James MS, minister for climate change, said that the timber groynes first installed on North Shore in 1938 were removed following public consultation in 1996 due to being “ineffective”.

These were replaced with a shingle bank, protecting the stepped revetment of the town’s promenade, only for this defence to depleted by “years of erosion” and storms which hit the coast roughly a decade ago.

She added: “Following those storms, Conwy County Borough Council quite properly acted swiftly to replenish the lost material.

“They did not – I’m sorry, Janet – ‘dump boulders on the beach’” – Mrs Finch-Saunders interjected at this stage by saying: “Oh, yes they did.”

Mrs James continued: “I think the council should be highly commended for the swift action it took, and I don’t think that saying it ‘dumped rocks on the beach’ is particularly helpful.”

She added that the proposed non-sand option for North Shore “provides excellent value for money”, and that “for every pound spent on the scheme, it will provide £11 in flood benefits”.

Proceeding with an option which includes the restoration of sand, she said, “has no anticipated additional flood and coastal risk management benefit”.

“The timber groins, more importantly, are constructed from tropical hardwood,” Mrs James said.

“They have to be, because it’s the only timber that survives the harsh marine environment. They would need to be replaced every 20 years.

“You would need to chop down more tropical trees from the other side of the world to import them here to put groynes in to hold the sand for only 20 years.

“I cannot think that that’s a sustainable course of action from a flood management programme.”