Fears over crumbling sea wall

STEPHEN PULLINGER Gorleston residents have been told they will have to wait until 2010 at the earliest for an £8m scheme to rebuild their crumbling sea wall.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Gorleston residents have been told they will have to wait until 2010 at the earliest for an £8m scheme to rebuild their crumbling sea wall.

A series of cracks in the wall supporting the promenade have been highlighted by town campaigner Dennis Durrant, who said it was unthinkable what heavy storms and scouring tides might do.

He said: “You wouldn't ignore cracks like that if you were buying a property. A walk along the beach shows the many cracks in the sea wall and my understanding is that rain, ice, and frost will work on any crack until serious damage is caused. If the sea wall were breached, how quickly would the sand cliffs erode?”

Borough council coastal engineer Bernard Harris said: “We are aware the sea wall has been slowly deteriorating and there is the possibility it could fail catastroph-ically if we have a major storm.

“If the sea wall were badly damaged, the second thing to go would be a major sewer leading to sewage all over the beach.

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“Halcrow is working on a scheme to reconstruct the wall by building a new section in front of it, but final design work is still being done and it will be several months before we can consult the public on it at a residents' meeting.”

He said that, even with residents' approval, Defra would be unable to fund anything until at least 2010.

And he admitted there was a danger that Defra might veto the scheme on the grounds of value for money because it would cost around £5m more than an earlier proposal to protect the wall with offshore reefs that had been dropped because of public opposition.

The council had Defra funding in place for that scheme about three years ago, but the overwhelming view of a packed residents' meeting at the time was that a reef scheme would be visually unattractive, and there were also safety fears.

Work costing nearly £20,000 to

repair cracks on Gorleston promenade caused by heavy rain in September is due to be completed by the end of the week.

Mr Harris said: “It was initially feared the problem was caused by subsidence, but investigations found the cracks were caused by water getting underneath the concrete.”

A section halfway along the promenade near the café has been fenced off during the work.