Magazine article Geographical

SAND TIMER: Vast Quantities of Sand Are Being Deposited along a Stretch of the Norfolk Coast to Slow Down Coastal Erosion

Magazine article Geographical

SAND TIMER: Vast Quantities of Sand Are Being Deposited along a Stretch of the Norfolk Coast to Slow Down Coastal Erosion

Article excerpt

Every year, the cliffs of the Norfolk coast are ground back another metre by the encroaching sea. When a severe storms hit, ten metres can be lost overnight. But the pubs and lighthouses of the regions coastal villages aren't the only structures in trouble. Just north of the village of Bacton, sits the Bacton Gas Terminal, which supplies up to a third of the UK's natural gas. Situated perilously close to the cliff edge, it's this site that has led to the arrival of a project never seen before in the UK.

Sandscaping involves taking vast quantities of sand from the sea bed and moving it to the shore to act as a natural defence against erosion. The 'Zandmotor' in the Netherlands, created in 2011, is the most famous example and now the Dutch project is being used as inspiration for a similar scheme at Bacton. Construction is almost completed, with 1.8m cubic tonnes of sand, enough to fill Wembley Stadium, being deposited at the foot of the cliffs. The idea is that this new beach will protect the gas terminal in the event of an extreme storm for up to 20 years and, as the sand naturally moves southeast, will also buy the villagers of nearby Bacton and Walcott more time.

Jaap Flikweert, a flood resilience expert at Royal HaskoningDHV, the company contracted to design the scheme, explains how this double benefit works. 'The majority of sand will be placed in front of the terminal,' he says, 'but we've been able to design it in such a way that the sand will gradually move towards the southeast and sustain the beach there. …

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