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Kessingland & Benacre Flood Management Project

The Benacre & Kessingland Flood Management Project has been a locally led project which explored potential solutions to the ongoing erosion currently seen on the beach at Benacre pumping station.  The Benacre Ness is moving northwards and this is leaving the sand dunes and the pumping station exposed to increased wave attack and flood risk.   The Board has been chaired by Cllr Dunne of Kessingland Parish Council for the last three years and before that by Cllr Liam Martin.  It includes a host of organisations including representatives from Benacre Estate, Suffolk County Council & Highways, East Suffolk Council, Water Management Alliance (including Inland Drainage Boards), Environment Agency, Coastal Protection East, National England, Anglian Water, Parkdean Resorts, Africa Alive, Hulever, Henstead & Mutford Parish Councils and the local MP, Peter Aldous.  The Water Management Alliance has acted as the main project management and have worked alonside the Board and relevent outside expertise which has been brought in to develop the project.

 

The project explored ways to create new flood defences further inland from the coast to provide a more sustainable flood risk solution for the people and businesses living in Kessingland village and up the Lothingland Valley.  The project also considered how best to provide new and enhanced habitats for wildlife, alongside improved coastal access for walkers and coastal users.

Professor Julian Orford from Queens University Belfast, a renowned expert in shingle ridges and coastal features like Benacre Ness visited the site with the Project Team in March 2019.  The visit allowed the Board to discuss how the coastal area between Kessingland village and Benacre cliffs might develop over time under different types of coastal management.  The movement of the Ness northwards and its relationship with the beaches and offshore bars was looked at as well as the Lothingland Hundred river and the pumping station, with discussions on how the river and coast may interact under different types of management options.  Prof. Orford prepared a report for the project,  and the outputs of his findings helped develop a sustainable coastal management solution for the area that also incorporated the river and freshwater flood risks. 

 

The purpose of the project has been to provide a solution to significantly reduce all forms of flooding (surface water, river and tidal) through new flood defence embankments and pumping stations set further up the valley. Due to the rapid erosion of the shoreline urgent action is required to mitigate the potential for flooding from:

  • structural collapse of the outfall defences at Benacre Pumping Station,

  • erosion outflanking the pumping station to the north,

  • erosion outflanking the pumping station outflanking to the south and

  • waves overtopping from failure of the barrier beach to the south

Since 2019, officers from the Water Management Alliance and Jacobs undertook  further site visits in the Lothingland and Kessingland valley area.   The team conducted soil testing and sub-soil investigations which informed what the local sediments and geology are.  This was important work as understanding the ground conditions was important to ensure that it was suitable to take the weight of new defences and potentially new pumping stations too.  This was followed by ground investigation surveys as well as work with the local landowners.  During all of this time Benacre Eastates and the Environment Agency have been working hard to maintain the current Benacre pump and the land defences around it.

After many months of hard work during lockdown, we are pleased to update you on all the work that has been carrying on in the background since the project board and the Water Management Alliance (WMA) were last able to send out an update.

 

The Outline Business Case for the Benacre and Kessingland Flood Risk Management project, which enabled the project to unlock Government funding, was given technical approval this summer, and we now have confirmation that this has been given full approval from the Environment Agency!

The project is currently being costed at £28m so the WMA have been spending the last year or so sourcing funds and making applications. We can happily now let you know that full funding has been secured, thanks to Central Government pots, Suffolk County Council and the Regional Flood and Coast Committee.  The project is now moving into the Delivery Phase of the project. A big thank you to everyone involved in making this happen - securing £28m is no mean feat in this financial climate!

The projects consultants Jacobs, on behalf of Natural England, produced a Habitat Creation Study, and there are some exciting concepts which could deliver significant environmental, economic and societal gain for the community.  A working group is being set up to move this part of the project forwards.

An application was made to East Suffolk Council on behalf of the Waveney, Lower Yare and Lothingland Internal Drainage Board to obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness to confirm that the IDB is able to carry out the required works under their Permitted Development Powers, meaning the project wouldn’t need planning permission.  This has been granted which allows the project to move forwards.

Detailed designs are now being drawn up by the projects consultants STANTEC for the flood defence embankments across the valley and the pumping stations. All going to plan, construction should start in 2023 and be completed in 2025 /2026.

 

Scheme Construction

Construction of the scheme will involve several new assets as detailed below:

  • Construction of a new embankment across the Lothingland Valley to manage tidal flooding of the A12 and manage flood risk to property upstream, as well as cater for climate change.

  • A new pumping station will be constructed at the new embankment to manage river flooding.

  • Construction of a new embankment south and west of Parkdean Holiday Park and Kessingland with a new small pumping station to manage surface water flooding.

  • Decommissioning the existing Environment Agency pumping station, removing the structure and relocating the current rock armour.

Below is the first draft design drawing showing the location of new assets. New embankments (green lines) will be further inland across the Lothingland Valley and at the southern end of Kessingland around Parkdean, with their required pumping stations. The area between the existing Benacre Pumping Station and the new embankment across the Lothingland Valley would become intertidal habitat.  The blue line shows the proposed new alignment of the River Hundred channel.

 

 

Wider Benefits

Beyond the flood protection, the scheme is looking to enabling two other separate but linked projects which aim to further increase the benefit the scheme can bring to the local area and community:

  • Development of Intertidal and Wider Habitat Project

  • Wider access, community amenity and business growth opportunities

Map showing the potential Intertidal habitat area and associated levels in front of the new embankment.

Left – Benacre Broad which the intertidal element of the scheme could look like.
Right - existing RSPB Minsmere, further south on the Suffolk Coast.

Scheme Benefits

  • 35 residential properties and 46 commercial properties will be at reduced flood risk

  • 97ha of new intertidal habitat created

  • 52km of river enhanced

  • Flood protection to the A12

  • 11million m3 of potentially available freshwater resources will be protected for the future

  • 600ha of farmland in the floodplain will be better protected from flood risk

  • Valuable fresh water abstraction within the valley protected from inundation from sea water.

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