Search

Sea defence scheme working well

PUBLISHED: 15:58 21 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:29 05 July 2010

AN EXPERIMENTAL sea defence scheme on the Suffolk coast appears to be working - although a final judgement will not be made until 2012.

Many other communities along the East Anglian coast will be interested in the long-term impact of the scheme, involving construction of shingle groynes, covered in a touch fabric, in front of a section of the eroding cliffs at Dunwich.

AN EXPERIMENTAL sea defence scheme on the Suffolk coast appears to be working - although a final judgement will not be made until 2012.

Many other communities along the East Anglian coast will be interested in the long-term impact of the scheme, involving construction of shingle groynes, covered in a touch fabric, in front of a section of the eroding cliffs at Dunwich.

Nearly a year after the construction went ahead and despite a series of North Sea surges, the signs are that despite some minor damage, the groynes are still intact and having a beneficial effect.

The Dunwich scheme, which cost about £50,000, was devised by consulting engineer Stephen Hawes, of Aldeburgh, as the result of a local initiative which achieved the support of the coastal defence authorities.

Unlike the multi-million pound “hard” sea defence projects at Southwold, Felixstowe and elsewhere, which utilise imported rocks, the low-cost scheme was aimed at blending in with the local environment by - as far as possible - using shingle brought in naturally by the sea.

One groyne runs parallel to the eroding cliffs and the others reach out into the sea at right angles to this. Dunes have also been created in front of the cliffs to try to slow down erosion which is endangering the long-term future of an area of land which includes several properties.

To construct the groynes two-metre deep trenches were dug and in-filled with “builders' bags” of beach shingle, strapped together and covered with a black, flexible and tough geo-textile.

It proved difficult to tuck the sheets under the shingle bags to protect them from direct wave action and to give the groynes sloping sides which could absorb energy rather than deflect it.

Parts of the textile have become torn but only one of the groynes has become displaced and there has been an appreciable accumulation of shingle behind the groyne parallel to the cliffs.

Michael Clark, a local resident who is overseeing the scheme on behalf of Dunwich Parish Meeting , said: “It seems to be working reasonably well at the moment but only time will tell.”

Lessons learned during the construction phase would be taken into account if the scheme was expanded in the future.

“Much of the work took place at the wrong time in terms of the tides and there were problems, eventually overcome, in securing the toes of the groynes where they enter the sea,” Mr Clark said.

Dunwich Parish Meeting was keen to try to show that effective coastal defences can be “green”.

“Soft” defences which utilise shingle and sand, sometimes held together by marran grass, fit in well with the Suffolk coastal landscape and are a fraction of the cost of hard defences which often use materials alien to the area.

The Dunwich scheme will continue to be monitored over the next four years and a report drawn up in 2012.

Money towards the cost of the scheme came from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Crown Estate, Suffolk Coastal District Council, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Sustainability Fund, Dunwich Town Trust, Cliff House Caravan Park and a number of local individuals.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists