Once in a lifetime proposal to bolster sea defences in north Norfolk moves to next stage

A new sandscaping project is on the cards. Aerial view of Bacton from October 2015. Picture: Mike Pa

A new sandscaping project is on the cards. Aerial view of Bacton from October 2015. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

A once in a lifetime proposal to bolster sea defences at Bacton Gas Terminal in north Norfolk and nearby villages has moved to the next stage.

Members of North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) cabinet approved recommendations to push ahead with the multi-million pound scheme at its meeting on Monday, July 3.

The project will involve sandscaping the shoreline in front of the terminal and along the coast to include Bacton village and Walcott.

About 1.5m cubic metres of sand will be dumped on the beaches to extend the life of existing defences for the villages. Similar schemes have been successful in the Netherlands and Denmark.

John Lee, NNDC cabinet member for coastal management, told the meeting: 'The beach is our first line of defence and beach levels are getting lower.

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'NNDC has invested £1.3m in sea defences in the last 10 years. But by working with Bacton Terminal Operators we have an opportunity to protect villages from the sea that has not been possible before.'

Richard Price, councillor for Waxham ward, said: 'This is the result of a massive amount of work by our council team. It does provide a different approach, as lorries have been used before to dump sand on beaches. Nature will now do that work for us. It's good enough for the Dutch and they have the experience.'

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And Barry Smith, councillor for Bacton ward, said: 'This scheme has been very effective in Holland and Denmark, and seems a cost effective way of doing it here.

'If we had a successful scheme here, that would be a feather in our cap. We will have shown the way.'

The proposed scheme requires a development agreement with the terminal operators, and the council will now start the process for tendering construction contracts.

Public drop-in sessions are being organised at village halls - July 12 at Walcott and July 13 at Bacton - to explain the proposal and get people's views.

It would be the first time a project of this scale has been delivered in the UK, with a total cost of £17m to £19m - including £4.8m to fund the village element of the scheme.

The scheme could be carried out as early as 2018, with sand taken offshore from licensed extraction sites off Great Yarmouth or elsewhere.

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