South Withernsea Coastal Defence Scheme completed

Thu, 17 Dec 2020

Work on the South Withernsea Coastal Defence Scheme, off Withernsea Bay beach, has now been completed.

The £7million scheme which began last April has extended the existing defences southwards with 400 metres of rock armour, and includes a new 100 metre terminal rock structure at the end of the defences.

Just under 70,000 tonnes of rock armour was imported by sea from Norway to construct the defence. East Riding of Yorkshire Council would like to thank the local fishermen for their corporation during this time.

Major construction work was also carried out at the site in order to reduce the gradient of the cliff face and to recover rock from the existing terminal structure to incorporate within the new revetment.

The majority of the rocks weigh between six and ten tonnes, but some reached as much as fifteen tonnes. This is thought to be amongst the largest used in such defences around the UK.

Rocks of this size were required to withstand the rough seas that this stretch of coastline can experience, both now and in future, should climate change produce the expected worsening of sea conditions. Rock armour's interlocking but porous structure has proven to be effective at withstanding wave action which is the primary cause of the areas rapid coastal erosion.

Councillor Chris Matthews, the council's portfolio holder for strategic management, said: "I am delighted that this hugely important scheme has now been completed despite undoubted challenges caused by the Covid-19 situation. I remain grateful for the funding awarded to carry out this project in order to help shield this area of coastline from erosion, which has increased in recent years."

Josh Riley, BAM Nuttall Site Agent for the South Withernsea Coastal Defence Scheme said:

"Our team has demonstrated enormous resolve, delivering this work despite the environmental challenges presented by the North Sea and the social and health pressures generated by coronavirus safety measures. The whole team, including our rock armour suppliers, KLM; subcontractors, RJT Excavations; and small local suppliers, have been positive and solution-focussed throughout.

"I would like to thank the residents of Withernsea who have been extremely patient whilst we delivered this work. We are proud to have left them a lasting legacy, which will provide protection for the town for years to come."

Erosion on this section of the Withernsea coastline has historically been at an average of around 4m per year, but in recent years this has increased to approximately 6m per year in places, with last year seeing around 12m of erosion opposite the frontage of the Golden Sands Holiday Park.

The work on the coastal defence scheme was managed by principal contractor BAM Nuttall Ltd, with KLM Ltd supplying the rock and RJT Excavations Ltd undertaking the earthworks and rock placement. The scheme was designed by Principal Designer JBA. 

The scheme received £3m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) towards the cost of the project.


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