Norfolk coast sandscaping
A scheme in the UK to build a ‘sand engine’ to protect the Bacton Gas Terminal and two Norfolk villages from coastal flooding has started writes Dag Pike.
Covering the coastline between Bacton and Walcott this scheme will widen the beach along this stretch of coast in order to reduce the impact of waves on the coastal defences by causing the waves to break further offshore. This pioneering approach to sea defences was pioneered by the Dutch back in 2011, who called the system the 'Zandmotor' and this Norfolk development is the first time it has been used outside Holland. By increasing the level of beaches, the gas terminal assets can be protected and the life of the defences in front of the villages extended.
This scheme is a joint development by North Norfolk District Council, Perenco UK and Shell UK, the latter two companies being the operators of the Bacton terminal. The scheme will involve the placement of 1.5 million cubic metres of sand to protect the 5km stretch of the coastline where the low cliffs are vulnerable to erosion from wave action. The sand will be reclaimed from sites to both the north and the south of the work site.
The Bacton Gas Terminal is a key national infrastructure asset, providing about a third of the UK's gas supply. In 2016, the government’s National Flood Resilience Review called on utility companies to develop long term plans to improve the resilience of local infrastructure to flooding.
It is anticipated that this Bacton to Walcott scheme will take three to four months to construct. The work has to be completed in the spring or summer to make use of good weather and calmer seas. Once the scheme starts, the vessels delivering the sand will work every high tide, day and night. Royal Haskoning has already begun work on the environmental impact case and they are preparing the business case to secure government funding. This Dutch company was heavily involved in designing the original Dutch concept.
The terminal protection scheme is combined with the scheme to protect the villages because this provides economies of scale and cost sharing. The project is a public-private venture made up of Bacton Gas Terminal with NNDC. The terminal protection is being funded by the terminal operators, Shell and Perenco.
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