Aldeburgh: Dispute over removal of old coastal defence

A windy day down at Aldeburgh by the Martello Tower

A windy day down at Aldeburgh by the Martello Tower - Credit:

A dispute has surfaced on the Suffolk coast over the need to remove man-made sea defences on a 600 metre stretch of beach.

The Environment Agency (EA) has been demolishing the old steel and wooden groynes designed to slow down longshore drift and build up the beach at Aldeburgh by trapping sand displaced by waves.

The work has been carried out for the safety of beachgoers after winter winds and erosion exposed a number of hazards on existing groynes, which the EA has declared outdated and no longer serving a functional purpose.

But questions have been raised about the advantages of removing the old structures, which are credited with stabilising the beach and encouraging shingle to spread and strengthen the shore.

Peter Wilson, of the Aldeburgh Boatyard Company, said: “My concern is based on the fact that these groynes are the only reason we still have a beach.

“Ripping them out in the name of health and safety must be costing a fortune.

“It’s a monumental waste of money being spent on trying to prove an argument that may be wrong.

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“It is thanks to the groin system that there is no longer an eight foot drop from the sea wall to the beach.”

The EA began work in April to remove about 20 exposed steel piles from the Martello tower to the end of Slaughden Road.

The area was closed to the public while heavy construction vehicles pulled the steel and timber piles from the shingle beach.

The EA insists that the metal piled foundations posed a hazard to swimmers and beach users, and that removing the piles would ensure that the beach can be enjoyed safely in the future.

A spokesman said: “All the removed groynes no longer have a functional purpose.

“They are outdated groynes that have been replaced by new ones over many years.

“As the beach has been eroded, and due to recent weather, old groynes that were hidden underneath the beach have become exposed and identified as a safety risk.

“After the removal, any holes will be filled and the removed piles will be sent to a recycling centre.”