The new Stolford Flood Defence Scheme was opened on Monday 18 March by the Environment Agency and Simon Smits, Dutch Ambassador to the UK.
Overlooking the Bristol Channel, Stolford has a history of coastal erosion and is prone to flooding. In 1981 high tides overtopped sea defences and flooded 660 hectares of land including 24 properties. Livestock also died. In 1990 a high tide and storms caused further flooding.
EDF Energy contributed £81,000 to the £1.5m flood defence, which was part funded by the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, EDF Energy and the Dutch government.
The Environment Agency previously spent £50,000 a year replenishing the ridge with 15,000 tonnes of shingle.
It was decided the best solution was a Dutch system known as Hillblock, a type of block revetment, that uses a series of specially-shaped concrete blocks. Storm waves flow over the structure and enter a network of cavities between the blocks that absorb wave energy. Shaped like champagne corks, the blocks are made from high density concrete and held in place by steel piles and concrete kerbs.
This is the first time the Hillblock design – commonly used in the Netherlands – has been used in the UK. It can reduce wave energy by up to 30% compared to the shore protection traditionally used.
David Eccles, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Hinkley Point C, said: “We know how devastating the effects of flooding can be, especially in Somerset. So we are extremely pleased to be able to help protect the 20 properties and surrounding farmland in this way.”
The Hillblock revetment