Stolford Hillblock Scheme Opens

The Hillblock revetment, Image source:

The tiny coastal community of Stolford has become the first location in the UK to benefit from innovative flood defense technology pioneered in the Netherlands – a system known as Hillblock.

The Hillblock revetment, Image source:

This new system is 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. Although extremely heavy, each block is designed to move slightly. The technology has been used extensively in coastal defenses in the Netherlands.

During the yesterday’s official opening of the Stolford Flood Defense Scheme, John Curtin, Executive Director of Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency, said: “This is an exciting engineering first for UK – the new technology installed at Stolford can reduce wave energy by up to 30 per cent compared to the shore protection traditionally used. It will provide valuable protection to this Somerset community and the surrounding agricultural land.”

Image source: John Curtin twitter

“It is also a great example of our joint work with the Dutch government, with whom we have a long history of mutual sharing of knowledge and best practice in the management of floods and climate change.”

Nol Vincent, Environment Agency project manager, added: “The use of an innovative and proven Dutch system at Stolford has enabled us to deliver an economic alternative to rock armour at this remote location on the Somerset coastline.”

“The £1.5 million scheme has been funded by the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee through the Local Levy and the new Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station currently under construction on the same stretch of Somerset coastline.”

The Dutch government contributed £100,000 under the Partners for Water Scheme which supports the use of Dutch water management innovations worldwide with the aim of improving global resilience while supporting Dutch businesses.

Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station contributed £81,631 under an agreement known as the Stolford Flood Mitigation Fund.