The 3.72 miles-long dune will protect Bacton Terminal, which supplies one-third of the UK’s gas, however, is teetering only meters from a cliff edge.
The £20m project must also act as a defence for two nearby villages – Bacton and Walcott.
It’s the first “sandscaping” scheme on this scale to be carried out within the UK.
Dutch engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV has designed it.
Once the sand has been shifted, a combination of wind, waves, and tides will “transfer the sands to where it needs to be,” mentioned the firm’s coastal management adviser Jaap Flikweert. It will “provide 15-20 years of protection”.
The scheme has just begun, and it’s anticipated to take about five weeks to get all the sand into place.
In a 24-hr operation, carried out by the Dutch maritime firm Van Oord, a dredging vessel is collecting the sand from additional along the coast at a licensed site where sediment is presently extracted for concrete.
It then sails to Bacton, attached to a large pipe, and pumps a mixture of sand and water onto the shore at a rate of 10,000 cubic meters per hour. Bulldozers and diggers then shift the sand into place.
Once done completely, the dune will stretch for 4 miles. At its highest level, it would stand 7m-high (22ft) and extend as much as 250m out to sea.
“It will turn back the clock to what the beach was about 30 years ago,” said Mr. Flikweert.
Sue Brooks, a professor in coastal geosciences, from Birkbeck, University of London, stated: “With the sandscaping scheme there has been a shift from hard defending the coast to extra of a nature-based solution. Put sand there, and let nature do with its wants.
“We don’t know at this level how successful this scheme is going to be, however at least we’re giving it a go, which is an extremely radical new way of thinking about shoreline management.”