The Government's National Rivers Authority has opted for beach replenishment as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way of preventing coastal erosion than traditional 'hard' defences of concrete and rock walls and breakwaters.
The coast between Mablethorpe and Skegness is one of the most vulnerable in the country, with three floods in the past 20 years. During the great East Coast flood of 1953, 43 of the 300 people killed lived on this low-lying stretch.
Initially, the fresh material will be dredged from an area of sea-bed a dozen miles offshore then pumped on to the lower beach mixed with water around high tide. Bulldozers and diggers then mould the new sand into a smooth, gently shelving profile.
The dredging site is already licensed to an aggregates company by the Crown Estates Commissioners, representing the monarchy which owns the sea-bed around Britain. But there is not enough suitable sand to cover the entire 13 miles of coastline, so the authority is seeking a licence from the Department of the Environment to dredge Race Bank, 30 miles out to sea. However, it faces opposition from fishermen because the bank is one of the East Coast's finest crab fisheries.
The project should protect 35,000 people from flooding and cost pounds 50m. The new sand will be gradually washed away and beaches will need rebuilding in about 10 years.
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