Shell applies for ‘temporary’ hard sea defences at Bacton Gas site
- Credit: Archant
Shell UK wants to build a temporary hard sea defence at the Bacton Gas plant to protect the nationally-important area from more damage.
The site processes up to one third of the UK's gas supply.
Shell insists the short-term wall's impact on neighbouring communities would be 'negligible'.
But leading coastal campaigner Malcolm Kerby has questioned that claim.
During the sea surge of December 2013 up to 10m of cliff was lost along the entire gas site frontage.
Now Shell, which operates one of the terminals at the site, wants to build a temporary 400m-long wall, reaching six metres above sea level, in front of its terminal, near the cliff base .
The company, together with other site operators, is drawing up a major coast protection project, scheduled to begin late next year, to safeguard the plant against further erosion.
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But Shell believes temporary measures are needed immediately: 'Given the sensitivity and value, to the nation, of its assets,' according to its application to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) .
Shell says the work would take up to 10 weeks and it would hope to have the defences in place by the end of December.
The wall would be made from gabions - steel mesh cages filled with either imported sand or stones - sitting on a gabion mattress.
Mr Kerby, who came to national prominence fighting for the rights of fellow Happisburgh residents who faced losing their homes to coastal erosion, said: 'Any university professor will tell you that there is a negative effect down drift from hard defences, and down drift of the gas site are Bacton village, Walcott and Happisburgh.'
He was also sceptical about Shell's hope that work on the major project would begin late next year, 'sandscaping' the shoreline with huge amounts of extra sand.
NNDC hopes to piggy-back on the scheme by providing extra sand for neighbouring communities but needs government help to plug a funding gap for the project. The council is still waiting to hear whether its plea for cash has been successful.
Mr Kerby said it would not surprise him if the scheme made no progress for several years, during which time the 'temporary' hard defences would stay in place, causing possible damage to the gas site's neighbours.
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