Climate Change


1. Introduction
Climate change is a huge issue facing this planet. The climate is changing quickly as a result of the planet warming up. Scientists believing that this is a result of too much greenhouse gas (carbon) being released into the atmosphere due to human activity.
As the temperature rises the warming seas expand. This together with melting ice caps and glaciers will result in sea levels rising and more frequent weather extremes.

By reducing the amount of carbon that is emitted, it is hoped that we can slow the warming up of the planet and the associated issues of climate change. The UK government has set a legally binding target for the UK to achieve “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The work done and reports to date are set out below. Progress on tackling the challenges faced continues apace with the recent installation of solar panels and the submission of grant applications for funding to protect the harbour from the impacts of climate change.

2. Sub-committee
The potential impact of climate change on the harbour and surrounding area has been considered by a sub-committee of MHT. This sub committee was established in April 2021 to address the following:

• Develop MHT’s policy for dealing with climate change
• Assess the impact that climate change could have on the harbour
• Assess the implications on the harbour as the country moves to a low carbon economy and how the harbour can achieve net zero status
• How we can best protect the harbour from the impact of climate change

3. Climate change Policy
The Trustees of MHT agreed the following policy on Climate Change at their meeting on 8 June 2021.

• MHT is fully aware of the challenge that climate change poses on the harbour structures with potentially rising sea levels and storms that are more frequent and greater in intensity. MHT will continually assess the issues and developments and take all appropriate action within its capabilities.
• MHT will ensure that the harbour structures are maintained to as high a standard as possible within its limited financial resources.
• MHT will liaise with other stakeholders to seek grant funding for major project works to better protect the harbour structures from storm breaches and overtopping.
• MHT has a good record for reducing waste and recycling. It is not a major emitter of greenhouse gasses but will seek to reduce its carbon footprint further.
• MHT will seek to make all those who visit/use the harbour aware of climate change issues and that everyone has a part to play in reducing their carbon footprint.

4. Grant application for harbour defence

Following on from the Kovia report on The high-level feasibility study and option appraisal of potential proposals to defend the harbour from the sea and adapt to the effects of climate change, a meeting was held in April 2023. This meeting was well attended and included representatives from Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Environment Agency EA), Cornwall Council (CC), Mevagissey Parish Council, Kovia Consulting and local politicians. Resulting from this meeting, we have worked together with Kovia, CC, EA and local politicians to build a case for grant funding of repairs and rock armour protection for the harbour. 

In total we are seeking grant funding of £1.5m to undertake “medium term" protection of the harbour. This will involve carrying out repairs to the piers and installing rock armour for North and South piers. We are seeking 60% from the Good Growth Fund managed by CC, 30% from the EA’s Grant in aid match funding and 10% from MHT’s resources. We were assisted with the grant applications by Kovia Consulting and we anticipate hearing on whether we have been successful by the end of 2023.

If we are successful, we will need to establish a team to manage the next stage of the work – ie obtaining detailed quotes from contractors, agreeing detailed works, agreeing contract, drawing up budget/cash flow and appointing an external project manager. The work would probably start in 2024.

5. Coastal defence and historic harbour development

Plymouth University undertook a project for MHT to look at the impact climate change could have on the ageing breakwaters. This project looked at the wave conditions and water levels at the port, with due consideration for changes predicted due to climate change. Wave data was obtained from the Plymouth Coastal Observatory and a proposal for development of the existing outer breakwaters was developed. The report was produced by student Ross Rumble MEng Civil and Costal Engineering under the direction of Dr Jon Miles Associate Head of School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at Plymouth University.

A summary of the report can be seen here.

6. High Level feasibility study

Kovia Consulting were appointed by MHT in June 2022 to undertake a high-level feasibility study and option appraisal of potential proposals to defend the harbour from the sea and adapt to the effects of climate change. The final report was issued in November 2022 and reviews all of the work done to date reviewing the state of the harbour and the likely impacts of climate change. The report is a starting point that sets out the evidence and a case for action. The report will be discussed with Cornwall Council and The Environment Agency.

The report by Kovia Consulting can be seen


7. Marine-i
In order to assist the sub-committee with the climate change project work, we needed external expertise. Discussions were held with Marine-i, (an organisation that is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and brings together expertise from the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, the Cornwall College Group, Cornwall Marine Network and Cornwall Development Company) for an agreed project to assist us with our understanding and approach to climate change. This part of the project is now complete and the following key reports have been received from Marine-i:

• Potential high water levels at Mevagissey Harbour
• Electrical consumption and renewable energy options
• Floating offshore wind
• Decarbonisation of small commercial vessels

The case study produced by Marine-i can be seen


A summary of the main conclusions from each report are set out below:

8. Potential high water levels at Mevagissey Harbour
As regards the report on potential high water levels at Mevagissey, this is a significant and very useful piece of scientific work. At a meeting with Plymouth University climate experts on 22 October 2021 the clear messages were:

• that the overwhelming view of the scientific community is that climate change is happening and that this is being caused by human activity and its impact is happening quickly.
• we all need to take action to reduce the impacts of climate change and to slow the world from warming.
• there is evidence that storm surges are increasing both in frequency and intensity. This is mainly due to the warming of the seas due to increases in temperature. Seawater expands as its temperature rises.
• that the direction of travel for vessel decarbonisation was electrification (battery) or hydrogen. Both have problems/difficulties but the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Battery is likely to come first.
• the main impact for MHT is that we will need (in due course) to provide electric charging facilities on the harbour or storage tanks for hydrogen.
• there are “green/environmental” solutions to protecting the harbour but these are likely to be more expensive than other alternatives such as granite rock armour.

The final report from the lead partner (Plymouth University) of the project was issued on
15 December 2021 and the main points contained in the report are set out below:

• In the last 100 years there has been a 25cm (9.8 inches) rise in mean annual water levels at Newlyn (the nearest port that maintains such records) and that sea levels are continuing to rise.
• The most likely prediction for future sea level increases at Mevagissey is for increases in sea levels of 70 mm (2.8 inches) by 2035, 170 mm (6.7inches) by 2050 and 470 mm (18.5inches) by 2100. Optimistic predictions for 2100 are for an increase of 370 mm (14.6inches) and pessimistic predictions for 2100 are for an increase of 700 mm (27.6 inches). This is summarised at Table 1 below.
• The combination of sea level rise, spring high tides and low pressure storm events will create significantly higher water levels with storm waves further increasing the water’s reach. These higher water levels and large storm waves will bring potential for structural damage to an ageing infrastructure.

Table 1: Predicted sea level rises at Mevagissey. 

Year Optimistic Most likely Pessimistic
2035 70 mm (2.8 in) 70 mm (2.8 in) 100 mm (3.9 in)
2050 150 mm (5.9 in) 170 mm (6.7 in) 210 mm (8.3 in)
2100 370 mm (14.6 in) 470 mm (18.5 in) 700 mm (27.6 in)

Full details of these predictions and assumptions are contained in the report. They are based on scientific data from organisations such as the Environmental Agency, Met office and others.

The full report can be accessed


9. Electrical consumption and renewable energy options
We were recommended to contact Community Energy Plus as they had expertise in this area. Their experts visited the harbour and provided us with a summary of their findings. Basically, their advice was that the only practical way of reducing our electricity consumption would be to install solar panels. They did suggest that we should investigate if the waste heat from the ice making machine could be used, but this is not likely to produce any significant savings.

We were recommended to contact a solar panel supplier who had experience of installing solar panels on exposed places and dealing with planning issues for listed entities. This supplier has visited the harbour and identified potential sites for solar panels and provided the estimated cost benefit of these sites with the Aquarium, Harbour Office and West Quay being the most cost effective sites. We are currently in the process of finalising our plans with the supplier who are also providing consultancy to assist with planning applications and potential grants.

We have also renegotiated our electricity contract with 75% coming from renewable energy and the remaining 25% from low carbon sources.

The addition of solar panels should significantly reduce our electricity consumption and with the new green electricity tariff, the harbour is taking major steps towards its net zero target.

The full report can be accessed


10. Floating offshore wind
Whether the harbour could benefit from the new major floating offshore wind farms that are to be built in the Celtic sea (off Lands End) has been carefully considered. However, we do not believe that there could be any significant opportunities for the harbour (although we fully support the plans for this significant new source of renewable power).

The full report can be accessed


11. Decarbonisation of small commercial vessels
As regards decarbonisation of small commercial vessels, battery electric, hybrid diesel/electric and hydrogen fuel cells are the most likely near-market solutions for the kind of vessels which operate from the harbour, so charging points and hydrogen infrastructure are the most likely changes in fuel provision that will need to be considered in the future.

The full report can be accessed


12. Next Steps

Now that we have more information on what the future has in store for Mevagissey Harbour we need to plan for the future and the next steps are set out below.

i) It is quite clear that the harbour needs an action plan to protect it from the impacts of sea level rises and storms. We need experts to assist us in determining what the preferred project is for protecting the ageing infrastructure of the harbour and the surrounding area and the likely cost. We then need to promote this solution to stakeholders.

Note: the last detailed report about Mevagissey harbour was produced in 2012 by Royal Haskoning. This report stated that the overall condition of the breakwaters at Mevagissey was “fair” (which means a residual life of 30 years with maintenance) but some of the North Pier was in poor condition with a residual life of 5 to 10 years.

ii) Accepting that MHT does not have the funding to undertake any major projects itself, we must ensure that it maintains the harbour structure to as high a standard as possible with repair work prioritised over other non-essential expenditure.

iii) We need to do more to promote Mevagissey and become a “top 10” harbour (the website was the first step). We should review and improve contact and communication with all stakeholders (EA, MMO, CCC, local MP and others). We need to ensure that the Environmental Agency continues to categorise Mevagissey Harbour as “Hold the line”.

iv) We need to monitor and ensure that we are aware of all grants as soon as they become available and make use of them as appropriate.

v) We need to look at innovative ways of increasing our income to build up reserves and to pay for repairs.

vi) We need to plan how we can better protect vulnerable areas around the harbour from flooding (particularly Harbour office and West Quay). This would include not only flood protection but also ensuring all electrical equipment is above anticipated water height.

vii) We need to continue with our journey to become “net zero”. It is quite clear that if we want to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our electricity bills then solar panels are the most practical way forward. However, we need to overcome planning issues, ensure integrity of structures and have detailed costings provided for the recommended solution and apply for grant funding. This is being project managed by Harbour Master and was completed in October 2023 with solar panels fitted on three sites around the harbour.

There does not appear to be a great deal we can do to improve our energy efficiency. However, we have made a substantial stride towards becoming net zero as we renewed our electricity contract with 75% of this power coming from renewables and 25% from low carbon nuclear power.

viii) We need to keep abreast of how the market changes with regards to the decarbonisation of small vessels and provide the necessary new infrastructure for this.

ix) We need to make all of those who visit/use the harbour aware of climate change issues and that everyone has a part to play in reducing their carbon footprint (and therefore slowing climate change). The key message is that it is not too late and we can avoid the potential catastrophe if we take action now.