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Date published: 23rd June 2017

A ‘once in a lifetime’ proposal to bolster sea defences at Bacton Gas Terminal, Bacton and Walcott villages will be discussed by North Norfolk District Council’s Cabinet on July 3.

The proposed scheme would involve ‘sandscaping’ the shoreline, in front of the terminal and down the coast; effectively using high volumes of sand to protect the coast.

The volume of sand is approximately equal to 200 Carrow Road football pitches covered 1 metre deep in sand, or 1.5 million cubic metres. This would be the first time a project of this scale has been delivered in the UK.

It is estimated that the total cost of the scheme will be £17 million to £19 million pounds, which includes £4.8m to fund the village element of the scheme.

The scheme will require that an Environmental Impact Assessment be completed and establish that there will be no negative impacts economically, socially or environmentally.

The scheme will also be subject to the granting of a number of consents and licenses. North Norfolk District Council as the Statutory Authority has a responsibility to ensure that the proposal will not have any negative impacts on the communities and protected sites along this beautiful stretch of coast.  

A series of public drop in sessions are being organized on 12 July at Walcott Village Hall and 13 July at Bacton Village Hall to explain the proposal and to get people’s views. The drop in sessions will go ahead if the report is agreed at Cabinet and a Development Agreement is reached with the Terminal Operators.

If it does get approval it is hoped that the scheme could be carried out, possibly as early as 2018, with sand taken offshore from licensed extraction sites off Great Yarmouth or elsewhere.

Cllr John Lee, Cabinet Member for Coastal Management said: “This is the next step in helping to make this scheme a reality. It’s a necessary proposal and a great opportunity to enhance protection for the villages.”

“This is the best option on the table for Bacton and Walcott and I’m proud that North Norfolk District Council is looking to work in partnership with the Bacton Terminal Operators to potentially deliver this project, which would be the first at this scale in the UK. It’s an exciting project which shows the benefit of the public and private sectors working together.”

Bacton Terminal, Bacton and Walcott are at risk of coastal erosion due to falling beach levels and rising sea levels and village communities have been 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 nationally 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 falling beach levels.

The sand is expected to extend the life of the existing defences for Bacton and Walcott, while enhancing the beaches and benefiting tourism.

The Cabinet report is asking for approval to:

  • To delegate authority to the Corporate Director and Portfolio Holder to agree a Development Agreement with the Bacton Terminal Operators so that North Norfolk District Council is the lead partner for the delivery of the scheme.
  • To delegate authority to the Corporate Director and Portfolio Holder to negotiate with The Crown Estate
  • To recruit resources (staff) to support the scheme
  • To start the tender work for appointing a contractor to carry out the work if the Development Agreement is agreed.

The proposed scheme is considered financially viable.  Any additional funding for the village element of the scheme could enhance protection further.

Last updated: 16th August 2017