Campaigners to join forces to save coast

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to abandon large stretches of the Suffolk coast to the ravages of the sea have united to work together to convince the Government to drop the controversial proposals.

Mark Lord

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to abandon large stretches of the Suffolk coast to the ravages of the sea have united to work together to convince the Government to drop the controversial proposals.

More than 100 delegates met for a conference in Southwold on Saturday, including councillors from the Suffolk and Norfolk coastal areas, the Blyth Estuary Group, Natural England and Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer.

And they were united in their goal to overturn the Environment Agency's plans to phase out the maintenance of earth walls in the Blyth estuary.


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The move is expected to increase the risk of flooding to 40 properties and areas of farmland.

The main focus of Saturday's meeting was the Blyth estuary, one of the areas which will be most affected by the EA's policy, but it also dealt with concerns from elsewhere on the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts.

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Delegates decided co-operation and communication were key to reversing the plans.

Guy McGregor, Suffolk county councillor for the environment, who chaired the meeting, said: “There is no longer the feeling that the government agency will have its way and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Those attending the meeting were shown a map of what the area along the Suffolk coast would look like in 20 years if the managed retreat policy was carried out and delegates were horrified to see that large areas of coastline would have flooded.

Campaigners are due to meet with the Environment Agency in Ipswich on July 26 and environment minister Phil Woolas is due to visit the Suffolk coast next month. It follows on from a meeting in Felixstowe last Monday with Barbara Follett, minister for the east of England.

However, one delegate, Easton Bavents resident and coastal campaigner Peter Boggis, warned: “It seems to me that procrastination is the name of the game. My personal feeling is there is far too much talking and insufficient action.

“It's now more than six months since the November floods and apart from a few sand bags being put in place very little has been done. We are just a few months from the flood season and it is time we stopped talking and got down to some work otherwise the Blyth could be facing devastating damage.”

The Environment Agency has said the cost of maintaining the Blyth defences cannot be justified when there are more urgent projects elsewhere in the country.

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