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Date published: 21st October 2016

A ‘once in a lifetime’ proposal to help bolster sea defences at Bacton and Walcott villages for the next 20 years is being discussed by North Norfolk District Council’s Cabinet this month.

The scheme could involve ‘sandscaping’ the shoreline, effectively using high volumes of additional sand to be distributed by natural processes to protect the coast.

Bacton Terminal, Bacton and Walcott are at risk of coastal erosion due to falling beach levels and rising sea levels and village communities have recently launched a petition calling for improved coastal defences.

It is believed that the innovative ‘sandscaping’ technique, which has been successfully used in The Netherlands, represents the best chance of sustaining the defences for the villages while ensuring the critical gas infrastructure at Bacton Gas Terminal is protected.

North Norfolk District Council has invested £1.3m in the maintenance of sea wall and revetments at Bacton and Walcott over the past 10 years, but continued maintenance of the groynes is limited because of the falling and shorting beach.

The Cabinet report is asking for approval to:

  • Work with the Bacton Gas Terminal Operators to develop a sustainable scheme, provided the funding gap can be addressed, to ensure local community benefits from the coastal management scheme and there is no detrimental effects to the communities
  • Reach an agreement with the Bacton Terminal Operators for joint implementation of a scheme
  • Take part in the exploration and negotiation of a new extraction site for the sand to reduce the costs
  • Provide the resources to play a leading role in the management of the scheme;

It is also asking for the Cabinet to recommend to Council that £500,000 is set aside in the NNDC’s capital programme as the district council’s contribution to the scheme.

Cllr Angie Fitch-Tillett, Cabinet Member for Coast at NNDC said: “This is an innovative scheme and a once in a lifetime opportunity to help the communities of Bacton and Walcott; it’s a vital project and I sincerely hope that funding can be found and it is possible to gain the necessary consents for the full scheme to go ahead.”

It is hoped that the wider scheme, which is eligible for some Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Grant in Aid, may attract further government funding to overcome an estimated shortfall in funds which is in the region of £1.9 - £3 million.

The Bacton Terminal Operators may have to consider going ahead with their self-funded coastal protection if funds cannot be found for a wider public scheme. Any scheme would require planning permission and marine consent and this would also involve public consultation.

Concerns for nationally important gas infrastructure has led Shell UK to recently apply for consents for construction of temporary defences as an interim measure until a major scheme is finalised.

Last updated: 7th November 2016