Sandmotor will strengthen British coastline

Bacton & Walcott Sandscaping

The Dutch Sandmoter is building extra protection for the British coastline. Building with nature is the intention of the Sandmotor.

Since 2011, an artificial sandbank has been lying near the coast Holland. It naturally feeds the beaches and dunes with new sand and thus keeps it safe. Another sandmotor is rising near the British coast. It is the first time that the Dutch sand engine concept has been applied elsewhere.

Sandmotor Bacton

The artificial sandbank is being sprayed at Bacton, north of the city of Norwich. The next fifteen to twenty years, it will protect the area from further erosion.
The immediate reason for the “Bacton to Walcott Coastal Management Sandscaping Scheme”, as the project is called, is the constant erosion of the cliffs in the area.Shell and Perenco’s Bacton Gas Terminal, located right on the coast, which provides about one third of the UK’s gas requirements, is directly in the danger zone.

The beaches in front of Bacton Gas Terminal and the villages of Bacton and Walcott will be transformed during summer 2019 as a result of the Sandscaping scheme.

1.8 million cubic meters of sand

A UK-first multi-partner project, the scheme will see approximately 1.8 million cubic metres of sand placed and engineered on these beaches. The height and width of the beaches will be significantly increased and access to beaches improved. Briefly this will involve the following works over Summer 2019.

Natural protection

The idea of ​​the sandmotor is that the forces of nature are used to protect the coast. The sand that is sprayed in large quantities off the coast gradually spreads itself naturally along the coastline.

The new sandmotor is less spectacular comparing to the Dutch one. At Bacton the constructor started with a high and wide bump for the terminal, and a more elongated thinner profile for the villages. The sand from the hump will gradually move towards the villages and strengthen the beach.”


Pouring more sand was not an option. Where the North Sea gradually becomes deeper, there is a plateau of about three hundred meters for Norfolk, after which the sea quickly becomes deep. The sand would immediately slip away.

The sand motor in the Netherlands was primarily an experiment and for that reason it is designed rather radically. In the case of the British sand engine – in addition to affordability – the terminal’s demand for protection was paramount, as was the need not to choose a solution that would harm the surrounding villages.

21 million

Two thirds of the costs of the project, estimated at 21 million euros, are paid by the operators of the terminal. The remaining amount is paid from the national budget for coastal protection, but the local authorities and entrepreneurs also contribute. There is even money raised for the project by residents of the two villages.

Van Oord is the maritime contractor, which gives the project an extra Dutch touch.



Have you seen this?