Town set for �6.5m sea defence scheme

Cromer is on the brink of getting �6.5m to shore up its groynes and sea walls - more than 13 years after the project was first proposed.

At the end of January the Environment Agency will decide whether to include in its forward programme the multi-million pound scheme to revamp the groynes and add new concrete armour to walls - some of which date back to Victorian times.

If it is agreed, the work will start in November 2012 and take two years, with everything happening outside the April to September tourist season.

Meanwhile, North Norfolk District Council is forecasting a March 2012 start for a long-awaited �1.2m project to repair the Victorian pier and give it another 20 years of life.

Updates on both schemes were provided to Cromer Town Council on Monday evening by NNDC coastal engineer Brian Farrow.

Mr Farrow said the existing groynes were 'hugely effective' and had been built to last. He said the plan was to rebuild them 'like for like'.

He said the overall scheme would give the defences '50 years of life', and he added: 'We want to encase the sea walls in concrete. But we will have to be careful because some of the walls are listed.'

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He said there was no prospect of extra sand being put on the beaches at Cromer to replenish them. He said: 'Over the years all the beaches have dropped because the sand is working its way towards Great Yarmouth.

'The North Sea is a very high energy sea. The problem with putting sand on the beach is that it will be carried away again.'

Mr Farrow said if the project was not passed, the council would 'continue to do minimal maintenance and keep plugging away with the scheme'.

The scheme, which has been through three sets of consultants since 1998 as the sea defence funding rules have changed, has been passed by the agency's regional flood and coastal protection committee.

It is on the approved list of schemes, and now needs to be given the final go-ahead by the agency - a decision that local engineers are confident will be made.

The pier repair scheme has been delayed in recent months because NNDC had to put it out to tender twice.

Mr Farrow said: 'We are currently out to five contractors. We expect tenders back by early January. If all goes to plan, by the end of February we should have a scheme for Cromer.

'We would start in March 2012 and go through solidly for 68 weeks. The pier will not need to be closed.'