December 5 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Stormy seas have tripled the cost of emergency cliff repairs at Hopton, leaving holiday park bosses around £3m out of pocket.
Engineers completed a £950,000 shore-up at Hopton Holiday Village in June, using 7,000 tonnes of rock shipped in from Norway.
But severe gales last week saw a tidal surge wash straight over the revetments and cut into the sandy cliff face.
The damage struck by the undefended Shorefield and Horizons sections of the park, either side of the stretch repaired in June.
Workers have used the park’s 2,000 tonne rock stockpile in a bid to halt the damage, while a further 7,000 tonnes of granite is shipped in from Norway.
The eight-week project - to protect 210m of damaged cliff face - will cost £900,000, and bosses estimate total costs will swell to £3m after further winter work is completed.
Jonathan Stratford, park general manager, said: “It’s a sticking plaster, not a permanent solution.
“We always knew we would have to do more work, but we weren’t expecting the severity of the storms last week.
“It’s a hell of a lot of money we’re spending at the moment.
“When the tide came over it was just eating straight into the cliff.”
No holiday caravans had to be evacuated, but Mr Stratford warned they would have to reconsider if the inclement weather continues.
And he said of the £3m emergency defences: “None of this was budgeted for.”
He added the cash could have been used to redevelop all the roads in the park, build a new swimming pool or modernise the clubs.
Alastair Tindle, the engineer overseeing the project, said around seven horizontal metres of cliff had been lost at the north end of the beach.
And while repairs are not a “permanent solution” - with “not a proper gradient with the revetment” - if they are not completed there could be serious consequences.
“If we leave it, the top of the cliff will slip, so we need to back-fill it,” he said. “It’s all about how low the beach goes, as if that goes lower it [the cliff] will tend to roll forward.
“It’s gone down about a metre since the summer.”
He added the project completed in June had “done a good job” with “no sign of any movement”.
But with 800m of the holiday parking fronting the sea, a total of 21,000 tonnes of rock will be needed to complete emergency repairs along the full length - with 200m of the stretch already sea wall.
Work on the latest project is due to start in earnest after half-term week on November 4, with daily monitoring in the interim.
It is the latest in a series of defensive measure taken by Bourne Leisure, owners of Hopton Holiday Village.
Rock for the latest project is due to arrive in Lowestoft this weekend, with work hoped to be finished by Christmas.
A further shipment of granite will also be needed if winter gales inflict more damage on Hopton Beach.
Earlier this year Dr Phil Barber, a leading independent authority on hydrodynamics and shoreline management, completed a two-year scientific study into why the beach at Hopton had disappeared so rapidly after the past few years.
The report was commissioned by Bourne Leisure.
It claimed there was a connection between the accelerated erosion and the development of the outer harbour at Great Yarmouth - claims denied by port bosses Eastport.
Since the publication of the report, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has decided to amend Great Yarmouth Port Company’s marine licence requiring it to conduct more extensive monitoring reports.
Three of the six signatories to the Outer Harbour Monitoring Agreement (OHMA), Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Waveney District Council and the Environment Agency have decided to appoint an independent expert to advise them on the Barber Report.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council also contributed £200,000 to the emergency works completed in June.
A public inquiry earlier this year refused to allow port bosses permission to apply for a change to the Harbour Revision Order.
An attempt to have the decision overturned in the High Court was also unsuccessful.