Press release

Annual beach recycling underway in Norfolk

Environment Agency contractors start work on 7 March 2016 maintaining the shingle embankment and beach between Snettisham and Hunstanton.

Environment Agency contractors will start work on 7 March 2016 on annual maintenance of the shingle embankment and beach which helps protect people and 2,935 properties from tidal flooding between Snettisham and Hunstanton. The work 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 will be moving around 5,000 cubic metres of sand and shingle from the Snettisham Scalp to reinforce the defences between Snettisham and Hunstanton South. This process is known as beach recycling and is the most sustainable way to protect the coast in this location.

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 around £150,000.

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.

Next year the works will be funded through a new Partnership Funding initiative, a key recommendation of the Wash East Coastal Management Strategy (developed by the Environment Agency and the Borough Council of Kings Lynn & West Norfolk) which was published last summer. The East Wash Coastal Management Community Interest Company was set up to raise funds from the local community, caravan park owners and local landowners, to help protect this coastline for future years.

Cllr Brian Long, borough council cabinet member for Environment, said:

Beach recycling is vital work that must be done to protect West Norfolk’s coastline, but the way it’s funded has changed. 2016 is the last year we can rely wholly on government funding, but we’ve worked hard to prepare for the future. Funds raised by the East Wash Coastal Management Community Interest Company, contributions from other partners and a central government grant in aid will ensure that the 2017 beach recycling works can go ahead. However, we will need to keep working with the CIC and our partners to raise money to ensure the work continues beyond 2017.

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.

Notes for editors

We will be inviting media along to Snettisham Beach on 18 March to see the work taking place and to hear about the plans to ensure the annual maintenance of the shingle embankment and beach will continue in the future. Invitations will be sent out once arrangements have been finalised.

Media enquiries 9am to 5pm: 0800 917 9261