Press release

Annual beach recycling underway in Norfolk

Environment Agency contractors start work today on annual maintenance of the shingle embankment and beach between Snettisham and Hunstanton.

Transporting and tipping sand and shingle
Transporting and tipping sand and shingle

The work, which helps protect people and 2,935 properties from tidal flooding, is expected to take 3 weeks.

The embankment is a ‘soft’ sea defence, which requires annual maintenance to repair any damage or loss of material sustained over the winter period.

Ryan Ely, Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk Advisor, said:

We generally re-use around 7,000 cubic metres of sand and shingle to reinforce the defences, with this stage of the work bringing the defences back to the right standard. This process is known as beach recycling and is the most sustainable way to protect the coast in this location.

Dumpers will move sand and shingle from Snettisham Scalp, where it is naturally deposited by the sea over the winter, back to areas of the shingle ridge and beach that have lost material. It is then shaped by bulldozers to ensure the width, height and profile of the shingle ridge and beach is reinstated so that the ridge continues to protect the coastal community from flooding.

The Environment Agency monitors beach levels throughout the year to determine how much material will need to be taken from Snettisham Scalp and where it will need to be placed.

The project is carried out in consultation with Natural England and the RSPB due to the environmental importance of this coastline. The Environment Agency carries out ecological monitoring to ensure there is no long term detrimental effect on the ecology of the area.

The work is being carried out before the start of the bird breeding season and will be completed before the start of the main tourist season. The cost of the project is likely to be between £130,000 and £180,000 this year.

The Wash East Coast Management Strategy (developed by the Environment Agency and Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk) has helped to ensure that funding for this essential maintenance can continue after February 2016.

In accordance with the Governments Partnership Funding initiative, the project needs to gather partnership funding contributions from public sector bodies and the local community (including caravan park owners and landowners) to help protect this coastline in future years.

Local caravan park owners and landowners, who directly benefit from flood defences in this area, have already expressed willingness to make voluntary contributions to at least sustaining, and perhaps improving, the defences between Hunstanton South and Wolferton Creek. Good progress has been made to establish a Community Interest Company (CIC) that will be an effective means of managing local funding contributions. The Environment Agency will play a key role in bringing partners together to ensure the annual maintenance work will continue.

More information is available by contacting the Environment Agency’s Customer Services line on 03708 506 506. Notices will be put up along the flood banks to make people using the beach aware of the works.

Published 23 February 2015