'This really won't work' - Fence to stop windblown sand splits opinion

Tony and Yvonne King in front of the windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of the s

Tony and Yvonne King in front of the windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of the sea wall at Bacton/Walcott to reduce the amount of sand blowing over into the villages. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

The installation of a mesh fence along a stretch of sea wall has raised eyebrows among locals - but some say it will protect their homes.

The green mesh - held up by a long line of metal posts - has been put in by North Norfolk District Council between Walcott and a spot near the Poachers Pocket pub at Bacton.

Sand has been prone to blow over into the villages on windy days and during storms since the 'sandscaping' project of 2019, which saw 1.8 million cubic metres of sand pumped onto the beaches to slow coastal erosion

A sandscaping project in 2019 saw huge quantities of sand pumped onto

A sandscaping project in 2019 saw huge quantities of sand pumped onto the beaches at Bacton and Walcott to counter coastal erosion. - Credit: Chris Taylor Photography

This happened most dramatically in September 2020, when 70mph winds saw tonnes of sand blown into Walcott and Bacton covering cars, roads and gardens. 

Sand covering Walcott after high winds swept it up over the sea wall in September 2020.  

Sand covering Walcott after high winds swept it up over the sea wall in September 2020. - Credit: Danielle Booden

People in Walcott and Bacton woke up on Saturday morning to piles of sand covering the villages in September 2020. 

People in Walcott and Bacton woke up on Saturday morning to piles of sand covering the villages in September 2020. - Credit: Archant

Sand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott in September 2020.  

Sand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott in September 2020. - Credit: Abigail Nicholson

Tony and Yvonne King, who live in a house on the seafront and have had sand blow into their garden in the past, said were pleased with the new measure. 

Mr King, 69, said: "It's quite a good idea. I think it's useful."

But another resident, who did not want to be named, said: "It's outrageous. It's an eyesore. Sand has already started coming across. In the next big storm it's going to be ripped to shreds."

She also said she had lost her sea view.

The windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of the sea wall a

The windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of the sea wall at Bacton/Walcott to reduce the amount of sand blowing over into the villages. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

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Dan Goldsmith of the charity Marine and Wildlife Rescue said he doubted the barrier would be effective.

He said: "I see why there is consideration for reducing sand drift for the residents, however this really won't work, the sand will just blow over the top of the installed structure. It also looks like a dangerous obstacle if people were to climb on it.

"Locals have contacted us with concern that the recently installed net will end up a hazard to marine life. I would agree as it is likely not to be properly maintained, and any tidal surge or vandalism will ensure it ends up in the sea."

Ed Maxwell, who represents Mundesley division on the county council, said opinions seemed to be split, but that the district council should have done more to let people know about the project.

He said: “If they made more of an effort to talk to communities in advance of things like this the whole thing probably would work a lot better.”

The windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of

The windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of the sea wall at Bacton/Walcott to reduce the amount of sand blowing over into the villages. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

A district council spokesman said the barrier had been put in place on a trial basis, following consultation last autumn. He said they had not received any formal complaints. 

The spokesman said: "The measures are trials to understand if they can reduce windblown sand, with no set timeframe as they will be assessed on a success and requirement basis.  

"We committed to assessing windblown sand and following the previous instance in the winter, and sought as a goodwill measure to residents to see if there are measures which may assist."

The windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part

The windbreak mesh netting which has been installed on top of part of the sea wall at Bacton/Walcott to reduce the amount of sand blowing over into the villages. - Credit: Daniel Hickey