GIANT sand dredger Breughel arrived off the Lincolnshire coast at the weekend to start the 18th year of the annual Lincshore project, which protects 30,000 homes and businesses from flooding.
The £6million annual scheme, a partnership between Lincolnshire County Council and the Environment Agency, has run since 1994, dredging millions of cubic metres of seabed sand onto 20km of beach stretching from Mablethorpe down to Skegness each summer.
Heavy machinery then levels out the sand across an eight week period to afford the best protection over the harsh winter months.
This year Belgian giant Breughel, named after the famous renaissance painter, will be used and is one of the biggest yet.
It has a capacity of nearly 20,000 tonnes of sand which is sent onto land through a 400m pipe and ploughed onto the beach to prevent sand erosion which could leave the coast at risk.
The Environment Agency say the £6million a year scheme reduces flood risk from a two per cent chance to a 0.5 per cent chance by averting tidal surges like those seen in the devastating 1953 floods.
The 15km flood plain inland from the Mablethorpe coast is also home to around 19,000 caravans and acres of farmland.
The Environment Agency’s Mike Dugher said: “Lincshore aims to combat the decrease in sand levels and increased risk of flooding caused by erosion of the beach over winter.
“If the defences along the beaches which rely on the Lincshore project failed, there could be extensive damage to property and disruption to local communities. Tens of thousands of homes would be at severe risk of flooding, along with commercial and industrial properties.
“A number of important environmental sites would also be affected.
“Our work also benefits tourism by maintaining the beaches – without it, sand would be washed away leaving just a clay base.”
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