Great Yarmouth outer harbour blamed for Norfolk beach loss

Hopton Bourne Leisure
Image caption Holiday park caravans at Hopton close to a cliff over a beach that is eroding away

A holiday park in danger of losing caravan pitches and a nearby beach because of erosion is campaigning for improved sea defences.

Bourne Leisure runs a holiday park at Hopton on Sea and commissioned a report on the effects of the new outer harbour at Great Yarmouth on coastal erosion.

The outer harbour owners are denying responsibility for the erosion.

The Environment Agency said it was considering the report and would consult partner organisations.

Ian Pennell, from Bourne Leisure, said: "We are concerned because we have 30,000 visitors a year and have been on the site since 1970.

"Our studies show that unless something is done about the erosion we will be losing caravan pitches."

Bourne commissioned engineer Dr Phil Barber to carry out a study for them specifically about the effects of the Great Yarmouth outer harbour brought into service in 2010.

Dr Barber used material from previous studies and set up a computer model to show how the harbour, which protrudes about 2,000ft (600m) into the North Sea, could affect movement of sandbanks as well as erosion and accretion of beach sand.

Image caption Holidaymakers enjoying Hopton beach two decades ago

He said: "We were able to look at the information before the harbour was built and compare it with afterwards.

"There was a clear change and there is no doubt in my mind that the harbour has made a significant contribution to erosion of the beach at Hopton."

Bourne Leisure said it had spent £500,000 on the project and was committed to saving Hopton beach.

The company said: "A team of engineers and coastal defence experts are currently examining how to stop further erosion and what is required to restore the beach.

"Preliminary discussions show that it will be a complex and multi-million pound engineering operation."

Bourne Leisure wants the government to appoint an independent and experienced assessor to review the report compiled their engineer Dr Barber.

'Modern sea defences'

Eliza O'Toole, vice chairman of Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited, said: "There is no evidence that the outer harbour is responsible for or contributing to the erosion of Hopton Beach.

"Variability in beach level and the position of the offshore banks on this coastline is something that has been happening for many tens if not hundreds of years prior to the advent of the outer harbour.

"There have been modern sea defences at Hopton since at least the late 1960s reflecting this.

"The outer harbour was not completed until 2010 and cannot be said to be responsible for long-standing coastal processes affecting the beach.

"The provision of coast defences are also the responsibility of various statutory authorities, not the port."

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We are aware of the ongoing issues with the beach at Hopton-on-Sea and have received the report from the owners of the holiday park, Bourne Leisure.

"We will take time to consider the report and consult with our partners, including Waveney District Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Natural England and Associated British Ports, before agreeing a way forward."

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