Breakthrough study to reveal cause of erosion to Hopton beach

THE results of a breakthrough study to determine the cause of the costal erosion tearing into Hopton beach are to be published at the beginning of December.

Hopton Holiday Village owners Bourne Leisure recruited oceanic experts HR Wallingford to create an electronic model which they hope which will reveal the impact of the Outer Harbour on the coastline.

The model, which is believed to have cost an estimated �100,000, will expose the effect of the Outer Harbour on longshore drift and tidal flows. It will also simulate waves, tidal currents and the impact of a raging storm on the stretch of coastline north and south of the harbour – including Hopton.

Brian Hardisty, chairman of Hopton Coastal Action Group, believes the results have the potential to “open a can worms” about the Outer Harbour’s impact on Hopton.

He said: “In The Harbour Revision Order it states that if the Outer Harbour is responsible for the loss of beaches then they will be the ones responsible for putting it right.

“If you look at the Hopton beach today there are areas that are 14ft lower than they should be and it’s never been seen like that in living memory. So you have to ask yourself what has changed in the last two years?”

Currently, experts are completing the third electronic test, with the aim of unveiling the results of the study next month.

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Dr Philip Barber, a partner in Shoreline Management Partnership who advised Bourne Leisure on the study, said: “It is difficult to forecast the outcome of a study. But the objective is to discover whether the Outer Harbour is contributing to beach erosion.

“This is not a physical model, but a numerical one, which allows us to understand the impact of the sea on Hopton beach with, and without, the Outer Harbour in place. As part of the study, we will be taking information which is readily available to us including recent surveys of the sea bed. If there is cause for concern then the results will be available to the relevant government agency in order for action to be taken.”

The alarm was raised that Hopton beach was rapidly deteriorating after it was discovered beach levels in front of Hopton Holiday Park had lowered, access to the beach had become more difficult and parts of the cliff face had been lost to the sea.

It is feared that continuing coastal erosion would have a long-term damaging affect on the Hopton holiday industry with fewer tourists being able to enjoy the beach because the sandy stretch is strewn with shingle.

The Outer Harbour monitoring group includes representatives from Eastport, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Natural England, Associated British Ports, Waveney District Council and the Enviroment Agency.

The study began on July 11.