Sea defence repairs at Snettisham could become blueprint for Britain’s threatened coastline

From left council leader Brian Long, environment portfolio holder Ian Devereux, Sir Henry Bellingham

From left council leader Brian Long, environment portfolio holder Ian Devereux, Sir Henry Bellingham and Emma Howard Boyd at Snettisham. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

The annual recharge of the shingle bank between Snettisham and Hunstanton is under way.

Work is under way on the annual replenishment of the shingle bank between Snettisham and Hunstanton.

Work is under way on the annual replenishment of the shingle bank between Snettisham and Hunstanton. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

And for the first time chalet owners and businesses along the low-lying shoreline are paying towards the cost of the work.

Today the chairman of the Environment Agency was taken on a tour of the beach, along with councillors and North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham.

Over the next few weeks, contractors will scoop up thousands of tonnes of sand and shingle, which have been washed south by winter storm tides, and pile them up along the flood defence bank.

In previous years, the work was funded by central government. Whitehall has cut funding and now contributes around half the £200,000 cost of the work, leaving the rest to be found locally.

Work is under way on the annual replenishment of the shingle bank between Snettisham and Hunstanton.

Work is under way on the annual replenishment of the shingle bank between Snettisham and Hunstanton. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant


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A community interest company was set up two years ago to raise the money. In the first year, it raised £206,000.

Much of the money has come from voluntary contributions, with beach hut owners paying £15 and caravan or chalet owners £50 per structure.

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North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said: 'It's the first in the country and one that's being emulated by other parts of the country, so we're in the lead.' Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the Environment Agency, said: 'It's a model that's being looked at to see if can be replicated around the country. It's being looked at keenly because it's a way of helping communities take some responsibility working with the government funding.'

Not everyone in West Norfolk agrees. Four local councils which were asked to contribute £100,000 between them towards the work - Hunstanton, Heacham, Snettisham and Dersingham - all refused, when they put it to a vote.

Enough was raised to carry out this year's beach recharge without them making a contribution.

The work is being carried out before the start of the bird breeding season and will be completed before the start of the main tourist season on the coast in a few weeks' time.

Diggers will collect sand and shingle from Snettisham Scalp, near the sailing club, where it is naturally deposited by the sea over the winter.

From there, giant dump trucks carry it back to areas of the shingle ridge and beach that have lost material.

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