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Scratby rock berm project progress

PUBLISHED: 18:08 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 30 June 2010

PLANNERS are confident they will have a viable scheme to shore up sea defences at Scratby ready to submit to the Environment Agency soon.

Bernard Harris, service development manager at GYB Services, told the annual general meeting of Scratby Coastal Erosion Group (SCEG) progress was being made on plans to extend the rock berm protecting the coastline, even though the plans were launched at the same meeting a year ago.

PLANNERS are confident they will have a viable scheme to shore up sea defences at Scratby ready to submit to the Environment Agency soon.

Bernard Harris, service development manager at GYB Services, told the annual general meeting of Scratby Coastal Erosion Group (SCEG) progress was being made on plans to extend the rock berm protecting the coastline, even though the plans were launched at the same meeting a year ago.

At that time, he told the meeting planning and design consultants Halcrow hoped to have the plans ready for submission to the Environment Agency by March, but objections from conservation organisations Natural England and the RSPB have slowed progress.

However, at last Friday's meeting, Mr Harris said: “We feel confident we can overcome these problems. I believe that we are going to have a workable scheme which will overcome these problems.”

If the Environment Agency agrees to funding, the rock berm will be extended from Caister sea wall as far as Little Scratby using 42,000 tonnes of granite rock transported from Scandinavia. The extended berm will protect between 100 and 200 homes at a cost of just over £3m.

Mr Harris revealed funding could be sought from the government's pathfinder scheme, which is money provided to test options to protect from or mitigate the effects of coastal erosion.

Yarmouth Borough Council received £296,500, while North Norfolk District Council was awarded £3m.

This discrepancy in pathfinder funding between Yarmouth and North Norfolk also provoked debate at the annual meeting, with Lyndon Bevan, vice-chairman of Hemsby Parish Council, asking whether more effort could have been made to secure more money for Yarmouth.

After the meeting SCEG secretary Jim Bratton told The Mercury that North Norfolk District Council had received more because homes in that area were in more immediate danger of falling into the sea and therefore the extra cash was to cover likely compensation claims.

He added although the SCEG was still actively pursuing compensation for homeowners faced with losing their homes, the danger was not as imminent in Scratby.

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright also attended the meeting at Ormesby Village Centre and spoke of the good work done by the SCEG in getting its voice heard at government level, which had included a visit by SCEG members to meet Environment Agency chairman Chris Smith.

Brandon Lewis, prospective Tory parliamentary candidate for Yarmouth, also attended along with borough councillors Jim Shrimplin and Charles Reynolds, and Tim Howard, the council's head of regeneration and environment.

SCEG chairman Robert Stephenson announced he was stepping down from his position at the meeting, with Chris Hogg taking over.

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