New groynes plan under way

THE battle to save seaside communities took a step forward this week when a £7.6m scheme to replace crumbling groynes and replenish beaches got underway.

THE battle to save seaside communities took a step forward this week when a £7.6m scheme to replace crumbling groynes and replenish beaches got underway.

Large machinery took to the vulnerable stretch at the weekend between Horsey and Winterton in a major operation aimed at halting erosion, which if unchecked would undermine the sea wall and lead to breaches.

Under the scheme nine timber groynes will be replaced with rock groynes and 280,000 cubic metres of sand recharged to beaches at Sea Palling and Waxham.

The works described as urgent by Environment Agency project manager Ian Dodson come after years of consultations with environmental and wildlife organisations.

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Mr Dodson said six rock groynes put in in 2004 were holding the beach nicely but that it fell away noticeably in unprotected areas.

“It is a vulnerable, exposed part of the coast. Structures are needed to hold the beach in place to prevent undermining the sea wall. Over the years since the 1990s we have developed a strategy and we have spent over 350m, built nine off sore reefs and added two million cubic metres of beach recharge. It is a big project.”

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But the major operation has raised concerns, particularly over a well-known colony of seals often seen hauled up on the beach around Horsey.

The seal issue is one of several matters involving both wildlife and safety to people which the Environment Agency has said will be taken into account by a series of mitigation measures.

These include:

In order to protect pups and seals, construction work on the groynes between November and January will be supervised by an ecologist to ensure there will be no, or minimal, disturbance to the animals.

Carrying out the work outside the bird breeding season to prevent adverse impacts on little terns and ringed plovers.

Signs will be put up warning people of the hazards associated with both the construction and the groynes themselves on completion.

A watching brief will be undertaken if the groyne construction disturbs the clay layer, because there is concern about disturbing unknown archaeological remains.

An exclusion area for part of the project which will see recycling of old rock into repaired groynes will be set up around the ruins of St Mary's Church, which used to stand in the village of Eccles but was finally claimed by the sea when it toppled in 1895.

The rock will be used to build ten groynes between Horsey Ness and Winterton Ness Gap to replace failed timber or rock groynes.

Surplus rock buried under the beach will also be excavated for reuse, while a 275-metre stretch of rock revetment at Eccles will be reconstructed. Engineers aim to finish by the new year.

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