The Cost Of Not Maintaining The Breakwaters At Holland-On-Sea

On 27 February 2011 Matt Cooper made a FOI request to Tendring District Council asking

  1. The total money invested into coastal defenses in the past 10 years
  2. The major coastal defense schemes initiated in the past 10 years

You can read the full exchange relating to this FOI request on

The total cost over the last 10 years was £9,341,237.89

The major schemes were

  • Queensway to Brighton Road, Clacton-on-Sea
  • Seawall, York Road, Holland-on-Sea
  • Queensway Emergency Works, Clacton-on-Sea
  • Hazlemere Road Coastal Defence Works, Clacton-on-Sea
  • York Road Seawall Strengthening, Holland-on-Sea
  • Gas House Quay, Harwich
  • Crag Walk, Walton-on-the-Naze
  • Seawall below Cliff Parade, Walton-on-the-Naze

The first thing that struck me is this is a lot of money.

The second was that most of the schemes seem to be between Holland Haven and Clacton pier.  The stretch of coast where

  • breakwaters have not been repaired
  • the beach has been eroded
  • the sea is against the sea wall at almost all states of the tide

Some details of some of these projects are shown on TDC website but not, as far as I can tell, the cost.

Clacton & Holland Beach Hut Association give some details of costs so I started filling in the following table.


Location Start End Length Meters Cost Millions Cost/Meter
Queensway – Brighton Road
York Road
Queensway emergency  Feb-07 Aug-07
Hazlemere Road Nov-08 Jun-09 150 £1.2 £8000
York Road Sep-09 May-10 68
Holland Haven Nov-10 Jun-11 80 £1.1 £13750
Cliff Road Nov-11 Jun-12 230 £2.2 £9565
Gas House Quay, Harwich Nov-11 Jun-12 230 £2.2 £9565
Crag Walk, Walton Jan-11 Apr-11 110 £1.2 £10909
Cliff Parade, Walton Oct-08 Oct-08 130

Obviously the table is not complete yet and it may contain inaccuracies. If you have any information to update the table please email me

But the information that is there shows

  • Repairing the sea wall costs about £10,000 a meter!!
  • The repairs don’t last long as some locations have been repaired more than once, within a few years.

When the sea is against the sea wall at all states of the tide then it is eroding the wall 24 hours a day.

When the sea is only against the sea wall near high tide the amount of sea erosion will be reduced.  If the sea is against the sea wall from 1 hour before high water to 1 hour after high water, then the time the sea is eroding the wall will be reduced TO 1/6 of the time compared to when it is touching the sea wall all the time.

When there is a stretch of dry sand in front of the sea wall, as there is in Jaywick, the sea never (or only rarely) touches the sea wall.  Such a sand buffer is essential to protect the wall, without one there will be a continuing need for repairs.

The cost of the sea defences built at  Jaywick in 1986 is given here as £9.6 million. Using Google it seems about 3300 meters were defended. A cost of about £2900/meter. Admittedly this is a 1986 price but it looks extremely cheap.

And best of all there is a beach at Jaywick.

Moreover there don’t seem to have been any repairs since 1986.

The cost of rock groynes was estimated in 2005 for Southwold at £175,000 each.  Spaced 100m apart about 50 would be needed for the coast between Clacton pier and Holland Haven. A total cost of £8.75 million.

So for less than the spend on major projects over the last 10 years for the entire Tendring coast the problem could be sorted.

And there would be a real beach.

The alternative is to keep on patching up at a coast of a few million pounds a year
for ever.

And this leaves a risk that the sea wall and cliff may collapse.

This document tells you everything you would ever need to know about breakwaters (or groynes as they are more properly called).

[update 1 Mar 2013]a better link to the Mott MacDonald report from 2009[end update]

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