End in sight for scheme to protect the coastline

The installation of gabions (rock filled cages) from the rock berm at California along Scratby beach

The installation of gabions (rock filled cages) from the rock berm at California along Scratby beach joining with the Hemsby coastal defence scheme at the Newport cottages.April 2016.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Work on a long awaited coastal protection scheme is close to completion.

Around 1300 gabions (rock-filled cages) are being filled along an 877m stretch of sand at Scratby.

The work which started in December has less than 90 metres to go, and is expected to finish in the next three to four weeks.

The borough council's coastal engineer Bernard Harris previously said that although the scheme was a second-best solution to problems along the stretch, it would protect the sandy cliffs and 135 homes for another 20 years.

Robert Stephenson, chairman of the Scratby and California Environmental Group said: 'The work has gone extremely well and it is now close to completion.

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'Before people like Brandon Lewis and Liz Truss stepped in, it looked like we would be a couple more years away from having anything, so we are extremely grateful to them.

'It will prevent the worst for sure, there will still be storm surges which we will have to contend with, but with the gabions there it should prevent erosion at the bottom of the cliff and prevent what happened in Hemsby with the lost homes.

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'It should protect us for 20 years and we hope it will do that and longer.'

The work on the scheme comes after a ten-year campaign to install a sea defence to protection the Scratby cliffs.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council previously said extending the nearby successful large rock sea defences was too expensive.

The large armourstone scheme, called a berm defence, had been installed at nearby Caister and is estimated to have a lifespan of more than 25 years.

In the end the cheaper Gabion scheme was chosen, costing £600,000.

Of this £330,000 was from the Environment Agency, £91,000 from the regional flood and coast committee, £101,000 from the Pathfinder Project, £69,000 from Great Yarmouth Borough Council and £2,000 from the Scratby and California Environmental Group.

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