CONCERNS have been raised about the cost of repairing an Isle of Wight seawall, after experts said the bill could reach more than £2m.
Totland seawall collapsed following a landslip just over a year ago and has remained cordoned off since then.
Geotechnical consultants Mott MacDonald, appointed by the Isle of Wight Council at a cost of £18,000, have examined the site and their report was published today (Thursday).
A petition signed by 4,202 people calling for the popular walking route to be repaired, was presented to Isle of Wight councillors yesterday (Wednesday).
Mott MacDonald found prolonged heavy rainfall caused a 120m stretch of the wall to collapse and pushed it 20m towards the sea.
Future landslides cannot be ruled out, however, the report recommends shoring up the landslip with a rock revetment, extending to Totland Pier, and installing cliff drainage.
The repairs would cost £2.1m and even with Environment Agency funding — which would require further geotechnical evidence, likely to cost between £50,000 and £100,000 to gather — the Isle of Wight Council would still face £1.5m bill.
Cabinet member for public protection Cllr Phil Jordan said: "We understand the considerable public interest in Totland sea wall which is why we felt it was important to publish the report and arrange the information event so that residents can understand the complex issues that we as a council must consider.
"We are pleased with the level of detail within the report and are working with officers to consider the findings before discussing the matter with the cabinet.
"If a decision is taken to repair the seawall and re-establish public access to the area, the cabinet will need to consider how the Isle of Wight Council would be able to fund the repair costs in the context of the current severe budget pressures it is facing.
"We are now in receipt of a petition signed by over 4,000 residents and will be looking at the points raised as we consider this section of coastline."
Campaigners have said it is 'absolutely crucial' the sea wall is repaired, and claim it would be worth the money in the long term.
A public information event will be held at Freshwater Memorial Hall, between 2pm and 8pm next Wednesday, with Isle of Wight Council officers and Mott MacDonald representatives.
The report is due to go before the cabinet for consideration and is available at www.coastalwight.gov.uk
It will also be debated by full council because the petition was signed by more than 2,500 people, in line with council policy.