Rock armour from Norway has arrived in Withernsea today (Monday 15 June) after a 400 mile journey by sea ready for it to be used in the construction of a multi-million-pound sea defence scheme.

It took three days to transport the first shipment of 5,000 tonnes or rock to the Withernsea coast all the way from the quayside of the quarry in Rekefjord, on the southern coast of Norway - and then another five days waiting off the coast of Withernsea until the weather conditons were good enough to bring the rock ashore by barge.

A total of 63,000 tonnes of anorthosite, a rock similar to granite, will be transported to the site of the South Withernsea Coastal Defence Scheme, off Withernsea Bay Beach, over the next few months.

Construction work on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council scheme began in May and is due to be finished by the end of this year.

In preparation for the rock armour’s arrival, major construction work has been carried out at the site in order to reduce the gradient of the cliff face and to rearrange the existing rock defence structure.

The newly arrived rocks range in weight from 1 to 3 tonnes each for the inner smaller rocks, to between 6 and 10 tonnes each for the larger outer rocks.

When assembled, the interlocking rock structure is designed to prevent wave action from reaching the cliffs, thereby reducing coastal erosion.

When complete, the scheme will extend the current defences with 400 metres of rock armour, and will include a new 100 metre rock structure at the end of the defences.

Councillor Chris Matthews, the council’s portfolio holder for strategic management, said: “It’s an important day for the scheme with the arrival of the first load of rock armour direct from Norway.

“I know the residents in this area of Withernsea have been waiting for this day and will be delighted when the scheme is finished.

“We are extremely pleased to have been awarded funding to carry out this project in order to help shield this area of coastline from erosion, which has increased in recent years.”

Cliff erosion on this area of the Withernsea coastline has historically been around 4m per year, but in recent years this has risen to approximately 6m per year, with last year seeing around 12m opposite the frontage of the Golden Sands Holiday Park.

The scheme has received £3m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) towards the cost of the project.

The work on the defence scheme is being carried out by BAM Nuttall Ltd, as contractors for the council, with KLM Ltd supplying the rock and RJT Excavations Ltd undertaking the earthworks.

All work on site is being carried out in line with the latest Government and industry guidance on managing construction sites in relation to Covid-19.

Dave Waudby, head of infrastructure and facilities at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: “We will need to limit access to the beach in order to allow the construction equipment to operate.

“We understand that some people may like to watch the activity but we would request that they stay well back from the work site for their own safety. BAM Nuttall Ltd will have beach marshals on site to escort people safely past the works.”