Ceredigion planners are recommended to back changes to Aberaeron’s coastal £32m defence scheme later this week.

A Ceredigion County Council application before members of the council’s development management committee, meeting on 14 February, seeks permission to omit approved hydraulic tilt barriers at four locations along the town’s Quay Parade and at Pwll Cam, in lieu of manual bi-fold swing gates.

The application is recommended for approval, a report for members saying: “In summary, concerns were raised with regard to the operation, effectiveness, and public safety aspect of the approved hydraulic tilt barriers.”

It cites a list of advantages to the change, including: They can be operated by one person, and don’t require power, with less disruption to residents during the construction works to install the power supplies; the long-term maintenance is far simpler – with less demand on public funds – and there is little chance they will malfunction and compromise Quay Parade at times of flooding; they pose little risk to the public when both open and closed, as they are held open or closed mechanically and when open they sit neatly up against the stone walls; and the manual operations and appearance is more in keeping with a historical harbour setting, rather than modern day hydraulic gates.

“All gates are unchanged with regard to their material, length and height, and the colour of the gates is shown to be unchanged from that approved, finished in a dark grey colour,” the report says.

It adds the change from tilt barrier to bi-fold “will naturally result in the gates standing upright against the harbourside of the approved flood wall when open – that being the sole visual change”.

Last August, it was announced that works to protect Aberaeron from flooding with a new coastal defence scheme had obtained Welsh Government funding of nearly £27m.

The £31.59m Aberaeron Coastal Defence Scheme is funded through a £26.85m contribution from the Welsh Government’s Coastal Risk Management Programme, together with a £4.74m contribution from Ceredigion County Council.

The scheme includes the construction of a rock breakwater extending out from North Pier, refurbishment and re-building of pier head of South Pier, construction of flood walls, construction of flood gate at Pwll Cam inner harbour and improvements to the existing defences on South Beach.

The scheme itself was approved at the February 2023 meeting of Ceredigion County Council’s Development Management Committee, with BAM Nuttall Ltd the construction contractors.

Works to protect Aberaeron from coastal flooding have previously included 2009 works at North Beach which had a significant benefit in protecting the north-western part of the town from overtopping flood risk from the sea, but only addressed part of the flood risk problem.

Storms in December 2013, January 2014 and October 2017 led to the closure of Quay Parade and overtopping of the current defences within the harbour and south beach.