Huge amount of sand could be dumped on north Norfolk beach to protect Bacton Gas Terminal

Bacton gas terminal from the air. Picture; MIKE PAGE

Bacton gas terminal from the air. Picture; MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

New coastal defence plans being drawn up to protect a vital gas site in north Norfolk could help save neighbouring villages from disappearing into the sea for a further 20 years.

North Norfolk District Council has confirmed work to improve the coastal defences at Bacton Gas Terminal is continuing.

One option being considered is to 'sandscape' the beach with high volumes of additional sand, in order to help protect the coast from extreme weather.

It is thought this approach, trialled by the Dutch, would be the most effective and it could be achieved either by putting sand on the beach periodically, or in one go.

Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett, Deputy Leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: 'We are working with the terminal operators to see what we can do together. This option has the potential to help buy time for our villages, potentially extending the life of the existing defences by 20 years giving people time to plan and adapt to the changing coastline.'

North Norfolk District Council, the operators of Bacton Gas Terminal, and the Environment Agency are investigating how the scheme coud be funded.

Government funding is not available for the defence of the Bacton Gas Terminal. However, a scheme to enhance the protection of the villages is potentially eligible for government funding.

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Further work is now underway to investigate any environmental impact of the proposed scheme before a decision is taken.

Monitoring confirms that over the past 10 years on average beach levels on this frontage have been falling. A nearby beach ramp and cliff were damaged in the tidal surge of December 2013.

Concerns have been raised regarding the knock on effect to neighbouring villages of installing sea defences at the front of the gas terminal.

Bacton Gas Terminal processes up to one third of the UK gas supply. It is understood that if funds cannot be found for the wider public scheme then its operators would have to press ahead with the scheme for the terminal only.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: 'Work on this scheme is of the utmost importance. It is clearly critical that Bacton Gas Terminal, a strategically important site, is protected against further coastal erosion. However, it is also essential that when works are carried out to protect the gas terminal, every opportunity is explored to seek to improve the coastal management situation for the adjacent villages of Bacton and Walcott.'

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