Tendring: Beach sand row could “jeopardise” £29m sea defence project claim

Nick Turner, cabinet member for environment at Tendring District Council

Nick Turner, cabinet member for environment at Tendring District Council

Councillors have refuted claims they are “jeopardising” a £29million sea defence scheme, simply because they want reassurances about the type of sand and shingle that will be used to make up the beaches.

At a recent meeting of Tendring District Council, cabinet member for environment and coast protection, Nick Turner, announced he intended to submit a final report to the Environment Agency (EA) about the proposed scheme for the five-kilometre seafront stretch between Clacton Pier and Holland Haven – the second biggest project of its kind in the country.

Should the report be approved by the EA, the Conservative-led council expects it to make £22m available for the project, which involves 25 fishtail groynes filled in with a beach made up of sand and shingle.

Tendring District Council intends to add an additional £3m to the scheme, which Essex County Council has pledged to match. But a number of opposition councillors at Tendring say they want clarification on the exact mix of sand, small shingle and larger stones that is being proposed for the beaches. They say the make-up of the beaches “is vitally important for the area’s tourism industry” and have asked for the issue to explored at scrutiny committee.

The request has left Conservative councillors accusing them of attempting to “derail the project”.

Mr Turner said it was important for the council to show a united front to the EA.

He said: “Samples of the sand and shingle mix we intend to use have been made available to all councillors at meetings and the opposition councillors have had access to officers if they wanted to ask any questions.

Most Read

“I don’t understand the decision to call in the report at this stage. The funding the Environment Agency is offering is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we must not look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Council leader, Peter Halliday added: “Since the project’s conception every effort has been made to keep all residents and councillors informed but there appears to be a concerted attempt to derail the plans

“Now, I’m concerned that this political scaremongering could jeopardise the entire project.”

But independent councillor, Pierre Oxley, who represents the Tendring First group, said the comments were “utter rubbish”

He said; “I am all in favour of the scheme and will do anything to make it happen. We have been told the new beaches at Clacton and Holland will be made up of sand mixed with 10 millimetre shingle as well as some shingle measuring between 20 and 60 millimetres. But when I asked what percentage would be made up of 60 millimetre shingle they were unable to give an answer.

“The beaches are a big concern to people in this area and I want to make sure we don’t have a beach that is made up of too many larger stones.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Harry Shearing supported Mr Oxley in his request.

He said: “We have no intention of holding things up and just want the best beach possible. This is one of the biggest decisions the council has ever had to make and it is standard practice to place queries like this.

“It is vitally important for the area’s tourism industry and if we don’t ask the questions, who else is going to do it.”

The issue is due to be considered by the Service Development and Delivery Committee on Tuesday, June 4 at 7.30 pm in the Weeley council chamber.