UK’s first sandscaping scheme completed off the Norfolk coast
North Norfolk District Council has marked the completion of the Bacton to Walcott coastal protection scheme, that has been in development for several years, at a celebratory event on 20 September. The scheme is the UK’s first ever sandscaping coastal management scheme.
The pressing problem of coastal erosion along the east coast of England made North Norfolk District Council to ask Dutch engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV to design a coastal protection scheme for the nationally important Bacton Gas Terminal. Taking inspiration from the Sand Motor on the Dutch coast.
This summer the beach nourishment was carried out by Van Oord’s trailing suction hopper d HAM 318, depositing 1.8 million cubic metres of sand over a total length of 5.5 kilometres.
Much of the placed sand serves to protect the huge, strategically important gas terminal. The additional sand placed by Van Oord will be carried by the current along the Norfolk coast and ends up on the coastline further south as a result of this natural process.
The project, designed by Royal HaskoningDHV, is an export product, translating the Dutch Sand Motor to the very different technical and governance context of the UK.
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.’
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.’
More permanent solution
According to Flikweert the sandscaping buys time finding more permanent solutions. ‘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.’
Compared to the Sand Motor that was put in place in 2011 off the Dutch coast, the design of the British sandscaping is different. The Dutch Sand Motor started with the construction of a peninsula shaped island 5m above sea level, using 20 million m3 sand. The Dutch peninsula reaches much further out into the sea, meaning the transportation of the sand to the beach lasts longer.
The British version now started off with a much wider nourishment closer to the beach. This means that the flood safety requirement will be met much quicker.