Suffolk landmark needs urgent protection after severe coast erosion
- Credit: Andrew Partridge
Urgent coastal defence works are being planned to protect one of Suffolk’s best-known landmarks from the North Sea.
The project will see work carried out along 430 metres of the county's coast at Bawdsey - where cliffs and shores, including nearby East Lane, have seen huge amounts of erosion in recent years.
Severe drops in beach levels have already seen a coastal path, part of the national coastline walk, closed and temporarily diverted.
Bawdsey Manor, where the radar vital to winning the Battle of Britain was developed in the Second World War, and its 144-acre estate is today owned by PGL, a national children's adventure and summer camp company, which is keen to improve protection for the manor from the ravages of the sea.
The work would also protect the famous Pulhamite cliffs, a series of grottos, rockeries, walkways and other features.
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In an EIA screening request report submitted to East Suffolk Council, shoreline engineering, science and management consultancy ENBE, for PGL, said shores protecting the manor had suffered from beach loss, existing defences had deteriorated, and last winter saw "extensive erosion" of the cliffs.
The sea had found a way of getting behind the existing defences to cause further problems.
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Some of the existing groynes are in a poor condition.
Proposals drawn up for the area - and which in due course will form part of a planning application - include sheet piling to the face of existing piles, new toe sheet piling, sealing the new wall to the Pulhamite cliffs, rock armour, and new flights of steps and handrails. Some exposed older, unsightly and dangerous defences would be removed.
The project, if approved, would take 26 weeks but may be phased depending on the cost. PGL is responsible for the coast and estuary defences within its land ownership.
Research on the impact of the new defences on the coast around Bawdsey, Felixstowe Ferry and the Deben estuary has shown there would be negligible impact on coastal processes from the proposed work.
East Suffolk Council's coast protection team praised ENBE for a "comprehensive and objective assessment of all relevant issues".
Bawdsey Manor estate is within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it is felt the scheme would enhance the AONB by "decluttering the landscape" through removing old defences, covering exposed rubble and reopening the footpath, allowing the public to view the Pulhamite cliffs.
Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB team said: "The AONB team acknowledges that current defences are deteriorating and doing nothing is not an option. The current defences are clearly in poor condition and a solution needs to be found that enhances the AONB/Heritage Coast while also protecting the historic Pulhamite Cliffs/Bawdsey Manor.
"While we have some reservations about increasing the amount of rock armour, we also acknowledge that a robust engineering solution is required along this stretch of high energy coast."
PGL, which bought the estate three years ago, is making huge investments into the estate and recently received planning permission for a 14,700sq m lake to be excavated in the grounds to provide canoeing and raft building opportunities for guests.