The Isle of Wight’s iconic Military Road could be “washed into the sea” in just two years, a senior council official has said, though the route could have as long as a decade left.
Work is underway to find a solution, after holes opened up alongside the road between Chale and Freshwater and erosion continues to eat away at the cliff, in places just yards from the road.
The Isle of Wight Council’s director of community services, Colin Rowland, said there are effectively only two potential solutions, moving forward:
Re-routing the road further away from the coast; or upgrading existing inland roads to take diverted traffic.
At a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s corporate scrutiny committee yesterday (Tuesday, February 6), Mr Rowland said two issues affect the iconic drive: erosion caused by the sea and the formation of chines from the land.
“It could be anything between two and ten years before the Military Road is washed away by the sea”, Mr Rowland said.
“Regardless of any intervention we try to engineer, that is likely to happen.
“Any decision is not just based on the need to protect the natural environment, and economic or social factors, but also on the reality the coast is eroding at such a rate you would not be able to engineer yourself out of that situation.”
Last week, Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Phil Jordan said three specific sites are experiencing the “real effects of geological erosion”.
The Afton Down stretch, where voids have appeared, is considered to be relatively stable, but the more immediate concern is between Brook and Compton Farm, he said.
Re-routing the road inland would secure it for a further 20 years or more, Cllr Jordan said, but could cost more than £20 million.
He said the Isle of Wight Council has been in discussion with the National Trust, which owns most of the land, about rerouting and approached the relevant government departments for funding.