The first phase of enhanced sea defences at Westward Ho! has been completed with the placement of around 2,000 tonnes of locally-sourced rock armour from Brookland Sand and Aggregates. The energy dissipating structure is the first phase of a complete programme of linear defences for the region, funded by the Environment Agency, and was brought forward because of previous storm damage and flooding experienced in the autumn last year.
With rocks weighing 6-10 tonnes each and flat-bed lorry capacity limited to around 3 boulders at a time the logistics of moving such a large amount of material in a short space of time were complex. Once on site the boulders were moved to their final location in 25 tonne dumper trucks and craned into position. The front face of the rock armour was then covered by pebbles to reduce the visual impact and the impact of the structure on natural beach processes.
Atkins and Kier, who were the main contractors for the build, supported by local sub-contractor SEL Clarke of Bideford, were able to engineer the whole structure with 500 tonnes less material than originally anticipated, which resulted in cost savings in both materials and plant hire. All the contractors along with Torridge Council’s engineering team worked hard over the Christmas period to complete the works in as short a time as possible, and with the intention of minimising any disruption to residents and businesses.
The structure is already doing its job and came through unscathed from the most recent storm surges, which saw 13ft waves battering the North Devon coast. While there was some debris to be cleared following the event the main structure stood up to some of the highest waves the area has seen in recent years.
The Council’s Engineering team will continue to work on the remaining tasks, such as anchoring the land side legato block over the next few months and to tidy up the work area and surrounding site with the help of Northam Burrows Rangers. The Council’s expectation is to have everything ready for what is likely to be a busy summer for the visitors and local businesses. Further sea defence enhancements are also planned for the area as part of multi-million-pound regional schemes being funded by the Environment Agency.