'The process must not be rushed': flood defence probe continuing

EADT; Mike Page Aerial Photo Library; Snape and the Alde; PICTURE COPYRIGHT MIKE PAGE - PICTURES AVA

The Environment Agency's investigation into the flood defence work on the Alde and Ore Estuary is continuing. - Credit: MIKE PAGE

The Environment Agency says it cannot provide a a deadline for its investigation into flood defence work on a Suffolk estuary to be completed, leaving villagers "very disappointed".

The investigation into the flood defence works on the Alde and Ore Estuary has paralysed work on the project since September 2018.

In a statement released this week, the Environment Agency said: "We continue to gather evidence, and have undertaken several interviews under caution in the last few weeks, as well as inviting others to interview.

"These interviews are a crucial element of our investigations, and it is important that anyone invited for interview under caution is given time to prepare for the interview, and time to seek legal advice.

"This process must not be rushed. Interviews may produce further lines of enquiry for which we need to gather evidence and which we must follow up.

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"We are bound by law to follow up any new lines of enquiry which come to light. We have been asked for a deadline for completion of the investigation, but we are unable to provide that.

"It would be wrong for us to pre-judge what might be said in those interviews, and impossible to speculate on the time involved in following up on matters that have not yet arisen."

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In 2013 the estuary, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, flooded following a storm surge.

In the wake of this, a group of businesses and individuals banded together to form the Alde & Ore Community Partnership and drew up plans for the flood defence work at seven different locations.

Alison Andrews, temporary honorary secretary of the partnership, said: "I would say the immediate reception to seeing that is that it's very disappointing.

"I think people are puzzled as to why we can't get on. But one doesn't know the reason.

"People are very anxious to get on with the river defence work. We need to get it done sooner rather than later.

"We will be discussing it at the meeting on April 1, because we want to make sure we get the view of all the parishes.

"We're going to think about what we do about it."

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