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It's Norfolk's 'newest' beach - three cheers as sandy stretch is opened up

PUBLISHED: 17:39 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:39 20 September 2019

Clive Stockton at the ceremony marking the completion of the sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Clive Stockton at the ceremony marking the completion of the sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

It could almost lay claim to the title of 'Norfolk's newest beach'.

Sandscape artist Ray Wirick with his sculpture to mark the completion of the sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodSandscape artist Ray Wirick with his sculpture to mark the completion of the sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

And now the 6km-long stretch of wide, golden coastline which has been created after a £19m 'sandscaping' project between Bacton and Walcott has officially been opened.

It follows 1.8 million cubic metres of sand being pumped onto the beach to protect the villages, as well as the Bacton Gas Terminal, from flooding and erosion.

About 30 people gathered at Walcott beach for a ribbon cutting, carried out by North Norfolk District Council chairman Clive Stockton.

Angie Fitch-Tillett, the council's portfolio holder for coast, said she hoped the works would make flooding like the area suffered in December 2013 a thing of the past.

The completed sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood The completed sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

She said: "We had almost three feet of water on the seafront there, 300 houses along this part of the coast were flooded and people were out of their houses for six months. It was pretty grim. And of course Bacton Gas Terminal, which supplies about 30pc of UK gas, lost half its frontage because the sea washed it away."

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Ms Fitch-Tillett said the opening ceremony was the culmination of five years' hard work and co-operation between partners including the government, Shell, the Environment Agency and the New Anglia LEP.

Trish McCarthy, from Walcott Parish Council, said the works would bring "peace of mind" and she said she thought the beach's new look would attract more visitors.

The completed sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood The completed sandscaping project at Bacton and Walcott, Norfolk. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

She said: "I think it's always been a bit of a gem, but this has enhanced it. It's made a huge difference."

She said this would be the first winter in years they wouldn't have to worry about flooding.

The district council is now exploring the idea of having a lifeguard stationed on the beach, which would open the door to having it classed as a 'blue flag' beach.

Raymond Wirick, an artist from Bath, created a sand sculpture of the HAM318, the dredger that pumped the sand onto the shore, and youngsters from Bacton Primary School joined in to build sand castles.

The project, carried out by the Dutch-led group Team Van Oord, was the first of its kind in the UK and representatives form the Dutch consulate were also there for the opening.

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