A £36MILLION sea defence project to save hundreds of homes from collapsing into the sea has received vital paperwork needed before work can start.

The scheme, which is mostly being funded by the Environment Agency, will see new defences built along a 5km stretch of coast from Clacton Pier to Holland Haven.

If nothing is done more than 400 homes could be lost to the sea over the next 20 years.

The initiative has already got the go-ahead by the Environment Agency and Tendring Council planners, but needed the Marine Management Organisation’s consent.

The organisation has now granted the licence.

Council environment boss Nick Turner said “All the vital parts of the jigsaw are coming together nicely.”

He said the project, which is due to start later this year, would protect the coastline for the next 100 years and launch the renaissance of Clacton’s seafronts.

Tendring Council put up £3million for the scheme and is waiting for bids to come back from firms competing to carry out the work.

The project is the largest of its kind in the UK this year. 

A number of timber and concrete groynes will be replaced with 23 fishtail groynes built from rock shipped in from Norway. Around 900,000 cubic metres of sand and shingle will also be added to the beach.