Dutch Sand Engine solution comes to the UK

12 Sep 2017
4) Twenty years after sandscaping: Long term benefits left for infrastructure, environment, communities, tourism (Image: Royal HaskoningDHV)

4) Twenty years after sandscaping: Long term benefits left for infrastructure, environment, communities, tourism (Image: Royal HaskoningDHV)

Bacton Gas Terminal and residents of the surrounding Norfolk villages will benefit from Dutch experience as Royal HaskoningDHV completes the detailed design for an innovative coastal protection project.

It's the first time in the UK that sandscaping will be used to provide a sustainable long-term solution.

Royal HaskoningDHV has adapted the Dutch ‘Sand Engine’ concept – an example of Building with Nature – for the project. In this scheme 1.5 million cubic metres of sand will be placed along the coast to protect a 5km stretch of the UK’s east coast including the nationally critical Bacton Gas Terminal (operated by Shell and Perenco) together with its neighbouring communities.

URGENT PROJECT
Long-term coastal erosion is depleting the area’s beaches, leaving cliffs and seawalls exposed. Severe storms in 2007 and 2013 caused significant cliff erosion and flooding, underlining the project's urgency.

The project is a public-private venture of Bacton Gas Terminal together with North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), where NNDC is the Operator.

Gökhan Doygun - Commercial Advisor at Shell responsible for collaboration between the Bacton Terminal Operators, Royal HaskoningDHV and other parties - commented: “The Bacton Gas Terminal is an important energy asset for the UK providing about a third of the UK's gas supply. To protect the Terminal and the associated pipelines, we need a solution which will be sustainable and will allow us to continue operating into the future. Due to its green nature, Sandscaping creates a great opportunity for the Bacton Terminal and the neighbouring villages to collaborate.

“I understand the sandscaping solution does more than just protect the Bacton Terminal as it creates real benefits for our neighbouring communities because the sediment will improve the beaches nearby. It is also a sustainable solution as it can be re-nourished and maintained.”

John Lee, NNDC cabinet member for coastal management added: "This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to bolster sea defences at Bacton Gas Terminal and protect the villages of Bacton and Walcott – and this is the only viable way to strengthen our sea defences here. It’s an exciting project which shows the benefit of the public and private sectors working together.”

NATURAL ENERGY
Jaap Flikweert, Flood Resilience Leading Professional at Royal HaskoningDHV added: “In the Sandscaping initiative we are working with British partners to translate the Dutch Sand Engine to the very different context of the UK. It is all about using the natural energy of the sea to distribute the sand, and this can make sandy solutions affordable. It enhances the natural coastline without leaving a permanent mark, and can also be adapted and extended easily if needed in the future. Sandscaping also means design for multiple functions and stakeholders, to generate benefits and funding.”

The volume of sand to be used at Bacton is approximately equal to 200 football pitches covered 1 metre deep in sand, and will come from existing licensed dredging areas.

Public consultation has begun and Royal HaskoningDHV’s work on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is underway. The company will also prepare the business case to secure national Government funding, as well as developing the operations, maintenance and monitoring plan for the scheme with placement due to take place during summer 2018.

The first Sand Engine was introduced in 2011 on the Dutch coast and offers an effective soft coastal management solution making use of natural processes. The method entails depositing a large volume of sand in a location from which it is distributed by coastal processes over a larger part of the coast.

Royal HaskoningDHV was heavily involved in the design of the original Dutch concept, as well as delivering the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The Bacton project is the first time the concept will be applied outside the Netherlands.

By Jake Frith