Watch as more than 20,000 tonnes of rock arrives at Port of Sunderland for £3million sea defence scheme

Sunderland’s sea defences are getting a £3million boost with the arrival of thousands of tonnes of rock from Scandinavia.

By Kevin Clark
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 1:44 pm

Port of Sunderland has taken delivery of more than 20,000 tonnes of rock from Larvik in Norway which will be used to create nearly 400 metres of new revetment – sloping structures which absorb and dissipate the energy of waves – for its sea defences at Stonehill Wall and the Hendon Foreshore Barrier.

The granite boulders are now being unloaded at Greenwells Quay from the Stema II Barge which arrived in the port on Monday. It will take around nine days to complete the work, which the barge taking on more ballast water as the load is removed, in order to keep it level with the quay.

Norwegian rock is regularly used in UK sea defences because of its strength, durability and cost-effective shipping.Coun Kevin Johnston is Cabinet Member for Dynamic City with the city council, which runs the port. He said the improvements would give long-term confidence to both existing businesses and possible future investors as work continues to attract new tenants: "As well as our marine trade and traffic, both importing and exporting goods and materials, we’re continuing to see new businesses invest on the port’s estates."The port is a key part of our city’s infrastructure and these new rock revetments are a very cost-effective way for longer-term protection of the port and all its key assets,” he said.

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"This updating and investing in our city's assets and infrastructure - as part of our bigger City Plan for a more dynamic, healthy and vibrant Sunderland - are always priorities for us as a City Council."The strengthened defences will also help protect a 12-acre port site that is earmarked for a new plastics recycling plant - the first of its kind in the UK - to be operated by Norwegian company Quantafuel.

Port Business Development Manager, Andrew Foster said: "We’re very versatile and flexible with our approach to marine operations and in being able to provide the infrastructure for handling cargoes such as this here at the port.

"The arrival of all of this rock armour is interesting in not only how it is unloading and being stored, but of course how it will become a key part of the infrastructure and the very fabric of the port itself."

Unloading from the barge

Repairs to decking at the Stonehill Wall sea defences that were damaged in the winter and spring storms of 2018 have already been completed but it now requires 18,900 tonnes of rock for 215m (645ft) of updated revetment.

The rocks here will be between one to three tonnes and six to ten tonnes in weight.

Works for Hendon Foreshore Barrier, which helps protect the Northumbrian Water treatment works, require 8,000 tonnes of rock armour for its 175m long revetment. The rocks here will be between three and six tonnes in weight.

Works on the port's New South Pier have also been completed following damage in 2018 and were project winners at the Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) North East Robert Stephenson Awards 2020.

From left Sunderland City Council coastal engineer manager Peter Routledge, Coun Kevin Johnston and Port of Sunderland business development manager Andy Foster.
The rock will be used to reinforce the port's sea defences
Carrying the load off the barge
Storm damage to the port's Stonehill Wall area following storms in March 2018 (top) and after the completion of repair work