SCA 12 – Porthcawl

Summary description 

The SCA lies between the relatively sheltered south-facing sandy bays of Sandy Bay and Trecco Bay out to West Nash sand bank. The bays shelve gently out to sea but Fairy Rock, just offshore, dries at low tide. There is a small marina in the drying harbour at Porthcawl and the sea is used for recreational boating. The beaches are very popular and there is the Coney Amusement Park and the very large Trecco Bay Holiday Park on the flat hinterland to the north. The main focus of views is the lighthouse on the breakwater and towards the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.

Key characteristics

  • Porthcawl Point and Newton Point contain the south-facing Sandy Bay and Trecco Bay incised between small headlands of Carboniferous Limestone.
  • The sandy bays shelve gently south westwards and wave energy and tidal range are high although the enclosed bays are protected from the prevailing south west winds and waves.
  • There is a drying patch of rock offshore at Fairy Rock and the southern edge is the shoal at West Nash.
  • The rocks and shoals, combined with the drying rock ledge west of Porthcawl harbour and strong tidal currents mean that navigation is potentially hazardous .
  • There are numerous wreck sites inshore close to the harbour entrance, mainly of small vessels.
  • Porthcawl developed as a coal port in the 19th century. It became a popular resort for South Wales workers after the First World War.
  • The drying harbour has a small marina and the sea is popular for recreational boating including power boats and jet skis.
  • The beaches are very popular for general beach activities and are usually crowded in season. There is also wind surfing and kite surfing.
  • Behind the beaches on the flat hinterland are Coney Beach Amusement Park and the very large Trecco Bay Holiday Park (static caravans) backing onto the eastern beach.
  • This SCA has an intense, busy seaside holiday character.
  • The main visual foci locally are Porthcawl lighthouse on the breakwater and the Amusement Park.
  • There are views towards the cliffs of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast to the East and to Exmoor on clear days.

Forces for change

These can be divided into:

  • Natural processes
  • Visitor pressure
  • Marine use- commercial and leisure fishing
  • Offshore energy or minerals
  • Development pressure
  • Land management changes
  • MOD use

Initial thoughts are:

The area is sensitive to sea level rise and increasing severity of weather.

The SMP long-term objectives are to hold the line adjacent to the built up area of Porthcawl through maintaining and upgrading existing defences, including extending defences over the re-elect dunes along the eastern shore Sandy Bay. The Trecco Bay caravan park is in private ownership and would need to fund any coastal protection.

There are plans afoot for a major development of the marina area to include an ‘iconic’ new building behind the marina. It is also understood that the funfair may also be leaving the area which will also alter its appearance from the water.