Suffolk's beaches some of the 'fastest eroding' coast in Europe
PUBLISHED: 10:17 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 16 September 2019
Suffolk's coastline is facing an uncertain future - and has some of the "fastest eroding beaches in Europe", according to an expert.
Millions of pounds will have to be spent and innovative solutions found if the North Sea - rising because of climate change and melting polar icecaps - is to be kept at bay, communities protected and the landscape not altered forever.
Coast defence engineers are set to spend up to £1.5million on Thorpeness in the next two years and Slaughden, south of Aldeburgh, remains at risk of a devastating breach - with other areas also vulnerable to severe and disastrous erosion.
Now a new project which has just been completed in Norfolk to protect Bacton could offer hope - with engineers confident that plans for huge beach replenishment work could increase the size of beaches and keep the waves back.
"Suffolk has some of Europe's fastest eroding coastline along with Lincolnshire," said Karen Thomas, head of Coastal Partnership East.
Ms Thomas said that some of the erosion hot spots in Suffolk were at Pakefield, Corton and Bawdsey, whereas Felixstowe and Aldeburgh were among the best faring beaches.
"Not all of the coast is eroding, parts of it are being maintained and there are other areas where it is building up," said Ms Thomas.
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One of the other challenges facing Suffolk's coast is increasingly severe weather.
"When we have big storms it takes time to recover," said Ms Thomas.
"Big storm events are a problem and more frequent storm events mean there is less time for beaches to recover."
Dutch company HaskoningDHV has been using sandscaping to rebuild Bacton beach.
This sees sand pumped from the sea back onto the beaches to increase their height and width.
The company said that the process is designed to work with natural processes on the beach and can also help with biodiversity.
Jaap Flikweert, flood and coastal management advisor at Royal HaskoningDHV said: "Some early feasibility work was done around 2013 and 2016 which identified that a large scale shingle nourishment could work at Slaughden.
"Modelling suggested that this could have a very long functional life."