Looe is a picturesque fishing harbour situated in Southeast Cornwall, with a population of just over 5,000 and a thriving year-round tourist industry, attracted by the harbour, the town and the beautiful stretch of coastline extending around Whitsand Beach.
However, Looe has an unfortunate reputation for landslides, landslip and rockfall. The British Geological Survey dataset has recorded numerous significant landslide events within the town itself over the past 20 years, with many more recorded along the coastline between Looe and Polperro, and to the east towards Portwrinkle and Whitsand Bay. A tragic incident occurred in 2013 where a landslide in Looe resulted in a fatality, and other landslides have caused significant damage and disruption to property and amenities.
So what is the reason for all the landslides in Looe?
There are many reasons for the number of historic landslides, landslips and rockfalls that have occurred in Looe, one of the main causal factors is the landscape and topography of Looe, which is situated on steep hillsides around the harbour. As this area have become developed with houses and roads, surface water and groundwater can become impeded or channelled which can result in localised saturation of the ground, leading to failure.
Another reason is the metasedimentary bedrock underlying the town and making up the surrounding coastline. These metasedimentary mudstones and sandstone are bedded, and under certain orientations, rock mass can slide out of the slope face to form rockfalls.
If you have concerns about a property in Looe or the surrounding area, give Slope Stability Southwest a call, and talk to our Chartered Engineering Geologist. We can give advice and recommendations ranging from an informal chat to a GeoSLOPE stability assessment depending on your needs.