Residents’ call for protection for at risk coastal villages and Bacton Gas Complex

Bacton gas terminal; picture by Adrian Judd; for EDP

Bacton gas terminal; picture by Adrian Judd; for EDP - Credit: Archant

People who live near the coast are demanding their at-risk homes are given equal protection priority with the Bacton Gas Terminal.

Their concerns come as it was announced that high-level talks are under way to safeguard the Bacton complex which was damaged in last December's devastating tidal surge.

The cliff beyond the outer fence of the gas plant was eroded and the beach ramp for access to the site was damaged. Work is under way to repair the ramp.

The complex brings in between a quarter and a third of Britain's gas supply.

There are currently 500 staff on the site because of a rejuvenation project. There are usually about 250 people working there.

Residents in surrounding villages are urging those involved in the talks, which are looking at protecting coastal areas around the terminal, to think about the 'bigger picture'.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, North Norfolk District Council, energy secretary Ed Davey and coastal minister Dan Rogerson, the Environment Agency and the terminal operators are leading the government-level discussions.

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Following an initial meeting, plans to link protection work around the terminal with nearby coastal erosion work will be proposed by the council and terminal operators at a later date.

Richard Barr, vice-chairman of Bacton and Edingthorpe Parish Council, said: 'My personal view is the terminal is a major influence in our village. It also provides employment.

'Whatever happens, the government is going to protect the terminal. The government should be thinking very seriously about protecting the coast from Walcott to the terminal so villages stay intact. Walcott and Bacton got a hit last year.

'By all means protect the terminal but protect the residents as well.'

Coastal campaigner Malcolm Kerby, from Happisburgh, said the terminal had to be protected but looking at 'the whole process' was desperately needed.

He said it was important to bring in an adaptation policy for the whole of the coast as individual defences caused damage to areas that were not protected.

Eric Seward, county and district councillor for the area, said: 'It is of the utmost importance that the coastal communities of Walcott and Happisburgh are protected from coastal erosion and flooding in the essential coastal protection works that have to take place at the terminal.

'The outcome of this meeting is an important step forward in bringing this about.'

Angie Fitch-Tillett, district council cabinet member for coast and environmental services, said: 'Such an opportunity to jointly work with communities, private companies and central government is hugely positive and will provide the best opportunity for progress and a unified way forward.'

The site houses five separate gas terminals: Interconnector, Eni, Perenco, Shell and National Grid - The National Transmission System. A spokesman for the site said they fully understood the importance of erosion issues on the coast.