Green-light given for pioneering sand dump on Norfolk beaches to cost up to £22 million
- Credit: Archant
More than 1.5 million cubic metres of sand will be dumped onto Norfolk beaches in a pioneering effort to stem the tide of coastal erosion.
The huge sandscaping project will cost somewhere between £17 million and £22 million, and is aimed at protecting Bacton Gas Terminal and the villages of Bacton and Walcott from the sea.
Councillor Sarah Butikofer, council leader, said she was pleased planning permission had been granted for the project, which has been under discussion for more than a year.
Mrs Butikofer said: 'This is an essential piece of work to protect both our Norfolk villages and nationally important infrastructure.
'It is an exciting project that will put north Norfolk on the map for leading the way in innovative technology solutions, tackling climate change on our doorstep.'
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This will be the first time a project of this kind has been undertaken in the UK.
About one million cubic metres of sand will be dumped in front of the gas terminal, which was completed 50 years ago and handles a third of the UK's gas supply.
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Between 0.5 and 0.8 million cubic metres will be placed in front of Bacton and Walcott. The sand will go over a 5.7km stretch of beach.
All three areas are at risk of coastal erosion due to falling beach levels and rising sea levels. Sandscaping - which has already been successful in The Netherlands - is believed to give the best chance of sustaining the defences for the villages while ensuring the nationally critical gas infrastructure at Bacton Gas Terminal is protected.
It is thought the scheme will also provide much-needed protection for villages further afield, including Eccles and Sea Palling.
In June, the council Dutch firm Royal Haskoning DHV (RHDHV) as the scheme's designers, at a cost of no more than £125,000.
Funding still needs to be finalised, and a construction contractor has to be appointed before work can start.
The government's Marine Management Organisation agency will also need to grant a licence for the project.
The council it was hoped work would take place over spring and summer next year.
The smallest amount of sand which could be used - 1.5 million cubic metres - would be enough to cover 200 Carrow Road football pitches one metre deep in sand.