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Storms eat into Aquitaine coast

Up to 10m of France’s west coast have been lost to winter storms, while Brittany braces for more flooding

WINTER storms that battered western France eroded up to 10m of land from the Aquitaine coast.

The Aquitaine Coast Observatory said in a report that ‘all of Aquitaine’s sandy coast has been heavily eroded’ by storms that lashed the region in late December and early January.

The report noted a ‘retreat of the coastline of more than 10m in many areas’.

Between December 14 and January 8, a series of Atlantic storms led to record-breaking high seas, with waves reaching at least 4m for 60% of the time.

It was the first time this level of ocean activity had been observed on this section of the French coast since records began in 1958, the report said.

It continued: “The beaches have been lowered and flattened, limiting their resistance to the effects of ocean tides.

“This weakness has been reinforced by the temporary disappearance of the sandbars.”

Storm surges have eaten into the sandy cliffs of Gironde, destroying access to beaches. Coastal erosion has forced the evacuation of 78 beachside apartments in Soulac-sur-Mer.

On a visit to the region yesterday, Minister of the Environment, Philippe Martin, said that Aquitaine could be eligible to access almost €2million to pay for emergency work to protect its coastline.

Meanwhile, residents of storm-battered Brittany are battening down the hatches for another onslaught.

Météo France has placed four departments - Finistère, Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine and Loire-Atlantique - on ‘orange alert’ for flooding.

A tributary of the river Laita burst its bank, flooding parts of the town of Quimperlé as 34mm of rain fell in the area overnight.

The town’s mayor, Alain Pennec, said: “The water has surrounded the hall, flooded houses and even cut off the street of Pont-Aven - which has never happened before.”

Photo: Remy Amouroux only

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