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£500k sea defence scheme would protect Scratby homes for the next 25 years

PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 April 2014

Clear up operation on Scratby beach - dumper trucks and tractors clearing up material washed up by the December tidal surge. 

Picture: James Bass

Clear up operation on Scratby beach - dumper trucks and tractors clearing up material washed up by the December tidal surge. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

A £500,000 sea defence scheme could protect Scratby’s crumbling coastline for the next 25 years.


The 900-metre long revetment of gabions, stretching from the existing rock berm at Little Scratby Crescent and northwards to include Newport, would protect 135 homes.

Without it, properties could be lost to the North Sea within the next five years.

Details of the scheme were unveiled in detail this week, while Great Yarmouth Borough Council pledged £90,000 towards the work and asked the public for their views.

The gabions - rock filled cages, like the DIY defences installed on Hemsby beach - would be positioned at the toe of the Scratby cliffs, protecting the low dunes which act as a natural buffer.

Welcoming the step forward not long after the previous rock berm extension was thrown out for being too expensive, Chris Hogg, chairman of Scratby and California Environment Group (SCEG), said: “We are really pleased with the progress being made. If it goes up and lasts 25 years, it will make a big difference.

“If we don’t do something now, it could be that the first properties will go within five years. But even before the it reaches the homes, the sewers running under the promenade will go.”

In the Shoreline Management Plan, Scratby’s approach to erosion is managed realignment – allowing the shoreline to move naturally, but managing the process to direct it in certain areas.

Initially, SCEG campaigned for defences at the southern end of the existing berm but following the December 5 storm surge said the entire stretch needs urgent attention.

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the borough council, said: “We are formally consulting on a proposed coast protection scheme for Scratby beach, which aims to help protect the cliffs in a large weather event, such as a tidal surge.

“If left unprotected, the dunes take some years to recover once hit, meaning they are less effective at reducing erosion to the cliffs if hit again soon after by another surge.

“The proposed scheme aims to delay the rate of erosion, giving the community time to adjust to coastal change, using the findings of the Pathfinder project.

“The scheme is designed to help protect 35 homes which are nearest to the cliff edge, over a 25-year period, and another 100 homes, which are further back, over a 100-year period.”

Following consultation with the public, the borough council will apply to the Environment Agency for full technical approval and to secure as much of the funding shortfall as possible from the Regional Flood and Coast Committee.

“Gabions have a shorter life-span than a rock berm, but provide the same level of protection and are cheaper to install and maintain,” added Mr Wainwright.

“And there is also the benefit that gabions can be potentially installed in stages as funding becomes available, if the full funding is not secured at the outset.”

The previously considered rock berm scheme for Scratby would have cost about £3.9m and was dropped after it became clear funding was out of reach.

The new gabion scheme is likely to cost significantly less at £522,000.

The consultation ends on April 22 and details are available at Great Yarmouth Town Hall.

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