26 September 2019

The Crown Estate joins North Norfolk District Council and partners to celebrate the completion of innovative sandscaping project at Bacton

The Crown Estate, North Norfolk District Council and project partners have celebrated the completion of the innovative Bacton to Walcott Sandscaping Scheme. The UK-first, multi-partner project was an internationally significant undertaking and has been many years in the making. This pioneering approach has been designed to protect the local communities of Bacton and Walcott and critical infrastructure at the Bacton Gas Terminal site from the full force of the North Sea.

Sandscaping saw approximately 1.8million cubic metres of sand, dredged from marine sand sources, placed on Bacton and Walcott beaches and engineered to create significantly wider beaches and much-improved access. This bold new approach to sandscaping is expected to offer 15-20 years of protection from coastal erosion and the effects of climate change to this stretch of North Norfolk’s coastline. 

The sand placement has substantially increased the height and width of the beaches. The waves and tides will now help distribute the sand along this part of the coast. This natural defence will protect the coast from erosion in the event of major storm surges in the future. In addition to keeping the neighbouring communities safe, the scheme re-creates the dry beaches that the area used to have, while also creating dunes to enhance biodiversity. 

North Norfolk District Council’s Chairman, Cllr. Clive Stockton, led celebrations on Friday 20th September for the local community, cutting a ribbon and declaring the new beaches at Walcott and Bacton officially open. School children from Bacton Primary School joined guests, including Ms. Brechje Schwachöfer, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. To celebrate at Walcott beach they built sandcastles on the newly expanded beach and a sand artist recreated the HAM318, a vessel which had become a familiar sight off the North Norfolk coast as it pumped sand onto the beaches during the summer. 

Cllr. Sarah Bütikofer, North Norfolk District Council’s Leader, said: “After the major storm surge in December 2013 where we saw damage and absolute devastation to the local communities of Bacton and Walcott, we had to do something.  This positive and collaborative approach is a prime example of engineering with nature, and has been designed to address the real threat of coastal erosion and its devastating impact which here in North Norfolk we are all too familiar with. I am delighted to see lots of people enjoying the vast expanses of beach that this project has created and am looking forward to exploring the possibility of adding another blue flag to our current offer of six award winners here in North Norfolk.”

Dr David Tudor, Head of Minerals and Coastal, at The Crown Estate said: “This is the first sandscaping scheme anywhere outside the Netherlands and I’m delighted that we’ve helped to bring this exciting new approach to the UK for the first-time. This scheme is harnessing the power of nature, using natural coastal processes to move sand along the coast and feed the areas which need it most, safeguarding vital infrastructure and communities.”  

Sinead Lynch, Shell UK Country Chair, added: "The teams across this project have worked hand in glove to protect this critical national infrastructure. We wouldn't have got here without exceptional levels of private and public partnership, collaboration, and technical innovation. The clear benefit for both the local community and national economy is evident, and we should both applaud and shine a light on this great work."

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: "The climate crisis requires innovation and collaboration between countries, organisations, sectors and communities. The Bacton to Walcott scheme is a model for other climate resilience projects, protecting key national infrastructure while also delivering added coastal protection to the local villages. It is an example of how very different organisations from the private and public sector can work together to deliver a variety of benefits which would just not happen by working in isolation."

Jaap Flikweert, Flood and Coastal Management Advisor at Royal HaskoningDHV explained: “The sand will give the communities and the terminal owners 15-20 years of protection – during which time the wind and the tides will gradually move the sand around and eat it away. This period will give the local communities and businesses more time to further adapt to coastal erosion and climate change and decide on their future. In addition, the sandscaping solution provides a great beach for recreation and tourism. The sand was placed in a way that could initiate natural dune growth and boost biodiversity.”

Details of the project and video footage (credit: Chris Taylor Photo) can be viewed at www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/sandscaping

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