Bacton to Walcott Sandscaping

The Bacton to Walcott Sandscaping scheme is a large-scale beach nourishment, designed to protect the Bacton Gas Terminal from cliff erosion while also reducing risk to the communities of Bacton and Walcott, buying time for adaptation to coastal change. The scheme can be seen as the Dutch Zandmotor’s ‘little nephew’. ‘Sandscaping’ stands for large-scale nourishment, designed to work with natural processes and to achieve multiple objectives.

From challenge to opportunity

This project solved an unsolvable problem. Bacton Gas Terminal and the neighbouring villages of Bacton and Walcott are under threat from coastal erosion and flooding. We showed that a large-scale sandy solution was the only way to protect the Terminal without speeding up erosion at the villages. We then found that it was affordable to extend this solution to also protect the villages. This initiated the public-private partnership of Terminal Operators and Local Authority that made the scheme happen, supported by UK government and other funders.

The bulk of the sediment was placed in front of the Terminal, to prevent cliff erosion during very extreme storms for the coming 15 to 20 years. The tides and waves will transport sand from there toward the villages. Over time this will support the initial beach nourishment, extending seawall life, reducing flood risk and re-creating a beach for amenity. Environmental opportunities were created by designing the scheme to initiate natural dune growth. The communities have been positive throughout, recognising that the scheme created a solution where there was none.

Bacton to Walcott Sandscaping - Climate Resilience Project of the Year | Royal HaskoningDHV
Image: Collaboration was essential: between private and public clients, engaging all stakeholders and the communities, and supported by Dutch expertise

Team Van Oord won the contract to place the 1.8 million m3 of sand over five weeks in the summer of 2019. The sand was dredged from licensed seabed areas and pumped onto the beach where it was placed and profiled.

The result

The scheme has better protected nationally important energy infrastructure, 300 homes from erosion, 100 homes from flooding whilst also enhancing the natural beaches for recreation and the environment.

The coast will continue to erode, and in future decisions will have to be made again. Supported by the Government of the Netherlands and the clients, we are facilitating advanced monitoring by Dutch specialists Shore and are developing a Digital Twin to support beach management decisions. Results thus far show the scheme is performing as planned.