£1m claim in sea defences court case

A SUFFOLK man locked in a war with officialdom over his efforts to defend homes from the sea expects to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds - possibly more than £1million - in compensation and damages when the case is heard in the High Court, it has emerged.

David Green

A SUFFOLK man locked in a war with officialdom over his efforts to defend homes from the sea expects to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds - possibly more than £1million - in compensation and damages when the case is heard in the High Court, it has emerged.

Peter Boggis, who is being prevented by Natural England, the Government's countryside and wildlife agency, from maintaining a “sacrificial” sea defence protecting properties at Easton Bavents, north of Southwold, is still awaiting the date for the full hearing of an application for judicial review.

The hearing is expected to take place in the autumn and both parties have been asked for paperwork in advance.

Mr Boggis and his lawyers will contend that Natural England was wrong to extend the local Site of Special Scientific Interest to include the DIY sea defence - built using clay and other spoil brought in by lorry at a cost of nearly £500,000.

Lawyers will also submit that Mr Boggis has been denied his human rights under the European convention.

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Natural England claims that the building of the unauthorised sea defence prevents access, study and analysis of geological exposures in the retreating cliff face and that natural coastal processes should be allowed to take place.

One battle in the war between the residents of Easton Bavents and the Government agency, has already been decided.

Charles England, tenant of a chalet in the hamlet, won an appeal earlier this month against Natural England's refusal to allow him to maintain the sea defence protecting his own property.

The judge decided that the site's special scientific status was better served by protecting it against erosion than by allowing it to be destroyed.

The ruling, confirmed by Environment Secretary David Miliband, means that Mr England should be given consent by Natural England to maintain defences along the 60-metre stretch of coast immediately in front of his chalet. That consent notification has yet to be received.

Mr Boggis, a retired engineer who has built defences along a 1,000 metre stretch of coast, said yesterday that when the judicial review was finally heard in the High Court he would be claiming compensation and damages running to “six or seven figures”.

The claim would be based on his own legal costs and damages for denial of human rights.

“We are confident that justice will be done and that the right of people to protect their homes will be upheld,” he said.

Mr Boggis has accused officialdom of “bullying” tactics and being prepared to allow his home and those of neighbours to be destroyed “on a whim”.

Heather McMorland, Natural England spokeswoman, said last night: “We are unable to comment in the run-up to the court case.”

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