Where's all the sand gone?

OFFICIALS have denied that part of a “mountain” of sand and gravel dumped on a seaside resort's beach has been lost to the sea - only two weeks after it arrived.

David Green

OFFICIALS have denied that part of a “mountain” of sand and gravel dumped on a seaside resort's beach has been lost to the sea - only two weeks after it arrived.

About 500,000 tonnes of the aggregate - brought ashore by pipeline - was dumped on a stretch of Felixstowe beach as part of a £10million sea defence project by the Environment Agency, which is providing the funding, and Suffolk Coastal District Council.

As well as topping up the sand on the beach, 21 rock groynes are being installed to replace the older, more fragile ones.


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The Environment Agency was criticised earlier this month for carrying out the work in summer, the stretch of beach involved becoming out of bounds to the public and views of the sea being temporarily obscured by the mounds of sand.

However, the mounds were soon flattened by machines and the “new” beach left to find its own shape at the hands of the tides and weather.

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Photographs sent to the EADT by a reader yesterday suggested that a significant volume of sand had disappeared from the beach - gouged out by the tides.

However, both the Environment Agency and Suffolk Coastal District Council said the beach was being naturally “re-profiled” by the sea.

Viv Hotten , district council spokesman, said the sand was contained within the groynes and was going in and out while it found its natural position.

“You can't put a lot of sand on a beach and expect it to stay in the same position - it will shift naturally,” he said.

Rita Penman, Environment Agency spokeswoman, said no sand had been lost. “We can only flatten it out in a slope - we can't create the curve which is normal for beaches and the sea is doing that - what is happening is exactly what we expected. The sand is not being washed away.”

The agency has already defended its decision to carry out the work during the summer months.

It said weather conditions were more favourable and the defences would now be in place for the forthcoming winter.

The agency said the flood defence works were being carried out to raise beach levels in order to protect the seawall and promenade, improve the standard of flood protection, reduce the risk of loss of life and to protect 1,600 properties and the existing infrastructure.

In recent years the south beach from the pier to Landguard has been eroding steadily. Old rock groynes have been damaged by storms and part of the promenade collapsed.

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