New equipment boosts sea defences

WALKERS on Felixstowe beach thought there had been a huge oil spill after spotting what looked like chemical-containing booms off the shore.But the flotilla of ships were not placing booms to contain oil, but guiding in a massive sinker pipeline to pump ashore tens of thousands of tonnes of sand and shingle to bolster beaches at the southern end of the resort.

WALKERS on Felixstowe beach thought there had been a huge oil spill after spotting what looked like chemical-containing booms off the shore.

But the flotilla of ships were not placing booms to contain oil, but guiding in a massive sinker pipeline to pump ashore tens of thousands of tonnes of sand and shingle to bolster beaches at the southern end of the resort.

It provided quite a spectacle as workers aboard three tugs and a rigid inflatable carefully brought in the two kilometre long pipe, which was clearly visible, though partly submerged, as it stretched from Cobbold's Point to Sea Road.

The team had to connect the pipeline to the Sliedrecht 27 booster station, before sinking it and anchoring into place so it is ready to begin bringing shingle in to raise the poor beach levels on the main holiday beach.

The pipeline was towed along the east coast from the beach at Skegness after being brought over from Holland.

Andrew Rouse, project manager for the flood defence scheme, said bringing in the pipeline - the longest in the UK at the moment - would take much of the day.

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Sand and shingle material is being dredged from a licensed site in the Thames Estuary by the dredgers Sand Weaver, Sand Falcon and Sand Fulmar.

A 180m section of beach opposite Manor Terrace has been cleared to accommodate a lagoon area where beach recharge material will be pumped ashore on every low tide, then be loaded onto trucks and transported along the beach.

Mr Rouse said the £10 million sea defence scheme on the south side of the pier had suffered delays after the discovery of the unexploded 1,000lb war-time bomb last month and it may now take longer than six months.

Delivery of rock shipments from France had to be changed as the exclusion zones were moved and the rock barge had to anchor at a number of different locations off the coast for a while.

Despite the hold ups, the first two of the 21 fish-tail rock groynes south of the pier have been completed.

“We are doing everything we can to catch up after the delays to the work and we hope that the people of Felixstowe will bear with us. We will continue to work 24 hours a day seven days a week,” said Mr Rouse.

The Environment Agency and their contractors are asking for co-operation from the public during the works to obey safety signs and instruction from the workers advising them to keep off the rock groynes and out of the working area.