Bourne Leisure claims first round in legal battle over erosion at Norfolk beach

Official opening of Hopton Beach after it had been closed for two years.

Official opening of Hopton Beach after it had been closed for two years. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A holiday company has today said it has won the first round in a high court battle for compensation over erosion at a popular Norfolk beach.

Bourne Leisure, the company behind Haven and Butlins, has long blamed the outer harbour at Great Yarmouth, for speeding up the loss of beach along the stretch close to Hopton Holiday Village which it owns, and has spent around £10m tackling the problem and building up the disappearing sands.

The port company has always denied the accusations.

In a statement Bourne Leisure said the judge had ruled in its favour in the first round of its £15m court battle with Great Yarmouth Port Authority for compensation following what it called 'extensive coastal damage.'

It said: 'Bourne Leisure's Queen's Counsel told Her Honour Judge Alice Robinson of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) that the damage was the result of the construction of the outer harbour by the Great Yarmouth Port Company which was subsequently acquired by Peel Ports in December 2015.

'Bourne Leisure is suing the Great Yarmouth Port Authority to recover £15m of losses it has suffered including the substantial cost of installing new coastal defences plus other losses and legal costs.

'Her Honour Judge Robinson ruled in favour of Bourne Leisure on all five of the Preliminary Issues before her, thus rejecting Great Yarmouth Port Authority's argument that the owners of the holiday village should not be allowed to proceed with their claim.'

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The company launched its legal action around three years ago and it is now expected that the trial of the claim will take place in 2017.

Visitors and businesses first noticed the beach was being lost more quickly in 2008.

Bourne Leisure carried out temporary work to strengthen the cliff but in 2012 the wooden sea defences failed and beach access was lost.

The storm surge of December 2013 made matters worse and caravans had to be moved away from the cliff.

Since then the holiday park giant has built nine new rock groynes projecting almost 60m out to sea in a unique fishtail design.

It is reckoned among the biggest private investments in coastal erosion in the UK.

The beach was officially re-opened in March last year, helping to guarantee a contribution of around £10m each year to the local economy.

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