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'They didn't give up and nor will we' - Suffolk estuary defence project is 'forging ahead'

PUBLISHED: 14:56 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:58 18 April 2018

The estuaries around the River Alde are at risk of flooding.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The estuaries around the River Alde are at risk of flooding. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A £12million project to protect some of Suffolk' most special landscapes from flooding is reported to be "forging ahead" - with progress made on fundraising and regulatory work.

The Estuary Partnership's chairman Sir Edward Greenwell gave an update on estuary defence plans at its annual meeting. Picture: AMANDA BETTISONThe Estuary Partnership's chairman Sir Edward Greenwell gave an update on estuary defence plans at its annual meeting. Picture: AMANDA BETTISON

The Alde and Ore Estuary Partnership’s annual meeting heard a computer modelling study had proved “very satisfactory” in demonstrating the defence plan for the estuary, to raise walls to 3.3metres, could go ahead.

Work on preparing business cases for the project is set to begin, with the hope upgrading can start next year.

The meeting also received an update on the fundraising towards the project’s estimated £12m costs.

The Estuary Trust, which was set up to raise funds for the project, had been forced to re-evaluate its plans last year.

Partnership members at the annual meeting, held at Snape Maltings.  Picture: AMANDA BETTISONPartnership members at the annual meeting, held at Snape Maltings. Picture: AMANDA BETTISON

The Trust’s “enabling development” proposals, which could have seen homes built around the estuary to unlock its value, had provoked some opposition, so it has been “put on hold” until at November, when it is hoped a more “refined budget” will be available.

Other fundraising work is said to have progressed well - with £500,000 in the bank, £1m offered in pledges and a further £5m that landowners have committed to.

Partnership chairman Sir Edward Greenwell told the meeting: “No work we do now, or that our forefathers did in the past, is forever.. It can’t be. Over the 800-900 years of the sea walls existence previous generations have built them, rebuilt them, mended and improved them. They didn’t give up, and nor will we. With the knowledge and technology available to us now we should be able to do a better, smarter job than has been possible in the past.”

The meeting also heard from Karen Thomas and Giles Bloomfield from the Internal Drainage Board, which will be responsible for managing the upgrade of the walls. They reported the recent computer modelling had shown that raising the wall at Snape and Aldeburgh would mean short term increased flood risk to some properties – but only in a “very severe surge scenario”. Protection will be given to those properties.

Jane Maxim, funding chairman, said fundraising work would continue. “It is crucial we all feel involved in this effort and there are several events throughout the year to raise awareness and much more importantly, the very necessary funds,” she said.

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