Work starts on shoring up West Norfolk coast shingle banks

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Work started on the shore between Snettisham and Hunstanton yesterday on annual maintenance of the shingle embankment and beach.

The work by the Environment Agency (EA) helps to protect people and 2,935 properties from tidal flooding and is expected to take three 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, EA flood and coastal risk adviser, 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 EA 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.

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

In accordance with the Government’s Partnership Funding initiative, the project needs to gather contributions from public sector bodies and the local community (including caravan park owners and landowners) to help protect this coastline.

Local caravan park owners and landowners, have expressed willingness to make contributions to at least sustaining, and perhaps improving, the defences between Hunstanton South and Wolferton Creek.