Charges planned for West Norfolk coast defence

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Coastal communities could be asked to fork out for the costs to improve sea defences which protect their homes and businesses.

The Environment Agency and West Norfolk Council is currently running a public consultation on its strategy of how to protect the coastline between Hunstanton and Wolferton Creek.

Beach recycling work to maintain the soft defences between Hunstanton and Snettisham is currently paid for by the Government but this money will no longer be available due to a change in funding arrangements.

Both the council and Environment Agency say they are willing to make a contribution to the up front costs of sustaining the current standard of defences.

But if the community wants to improve the standard of defences it would be asked for a contribution.

The cost of recharging the beach along that section is £150,000 to £200,000 per year. Some of this money could be found from national sources but a percentage would be needed from the local community. Costs could be £50 per caravan or dwelling or £1 per hectare for landowners.

Deputy leader of the council Brian Long said this is the most serious part of the strategy.

He said: “National funding to maintain our defences is running out. We have to look at methods of keeping that working on going to keep those defences in place.

“The tidal surge which happened at the end of last year was worse than the one in 1953. The difference was the primary defences did their job.”

The strategy is also looking at the protecting the Hunstanton cliffs from further erosion; they are eroding at an average rate of three metres every 10 years.

Options include placing giant nets at the base, sand bags, rock-filled wire baskets or a rock sill.

The strategy is also looking at the defences in Hunstanton town, which are made up of a sea wall, promenade and groynes.

A condition survey in 2012 found that the estimated life span for some lengths of the wall is between 15 and 20 years. So a decision will need to be taken on when to replace the sea wall and promenade, which the council could provide the majority of funding for.

Information sessions on the consultation will be held on Monday at Heacham Public Hall and at Snettisham Memorial Hall on Wednesday.

The public consultation on the strategy will run until September 8.

The strategy document is available at