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12 December 2011

Work on UK’s current largest coast protection scheme is to be accelerated for early completion

The £10 million Central Felixstowe Coast Protection Scheme designed by Mott MacDonald and constructed by VolkerStevin, is due to be completed early following a decision by the Environment Agency (EA) to bring forward some of the second phase of funding. Originally work was due to be done in two equal phases with completion in November 2012 but now all the beach work will be completed in one phase and most of the beach will be free for use from April.

The scheme for Suffolk Coastal District Council is the largest coastal defence work being undertaken in the UK at present. It will defend the town from flooding over the next 100 years and will safeguard 1500 homes, local businesses and other key facilities.

Peter Phipps, Mott MacDonald’s project director said: “We have been involved with the project since inception in early 2009 and it is fantastic to see our designs becoming a reality. As a result of our work, the local economy is already benefiting from the protection the defences will provide, as the Heritage Lottery Fund has also provided £2.2m refurbishment of Felixstowe’s historic seafront gardens.”

The construction works being undertaken by VolkerStevin, include construction of 18 rock groynes, beach recharge and a rock revetment and access way that will extend the existing promenade 300m towards North Felixstowe.

Existing defences have zero residual life. The eighteen rock groynes currently under construction will protect the town. These are due for completion later this year. A rock revetment around the exposed headland known as Cobbold’s Point will be constructed in spring 2012. All beach work is scheduled to be completed by April in order to avoid disruption to the resort’s summer season.

Mark Gardner, operations director at VolkerStevin, said: “Our specialist teams are very experienced in this area of civil engineering and we are very conscious that we are working in a sensitive coastal area. As with all coastal protection schemes we have undertaken, we are very aware of our environment and the controls we must put in place to ensure we have the minimum impact possible, whilst providing the maximum benefits.”

Barges are being used to carry 100,000 tonnes of rock armour (4 to 6.5 tonne blocks of granite) from Norway. The rocks are being placed with the aid of Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance. Concrete from the town’s old defences is being crushed and used in the cores of the new groynes. Clay removed during excavation of foundations for the groynes is also being reclaimed and reused on-site.

Project manager for Suffolk Coastal District Council, David Wheeler said: "Due to additional funding from the Environment Agency being made available in 2011/12, all the new groynes and the beach recharge will be completed in early 2012, thereby providing enhanced protection to the whole of Central Felixstowe beach frontage some seven months early and allowing public access to the whole of the frontage for the vast majority of 2012."


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