Coastal campaigner heads for Supreme Court

A RETIRED engineer who has built more than 1km of his own coastal defences to protect his home has launched a bid to reverse a decision that ruled against him.

Craig Robinson

A RETIRED engineer who has built more than 1km of his own coastal defences to protect his home has launched a bid to reverse a decision that ruled against him.

Peter Boggis has used more than 250,000 tonnes of compacted clay soil to stop his property at Easton Bavents, near Southwold, from falling into the North Sea.

For the past three years he has been fighting against Natural England's proposals to include the fossil-rich cliffs in a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).


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The sea defence work was carried out without planning permission and at the end of last month the Court of Appeal ruled the cliffs should be allowed to erode naturally.

Judges also said the 78-year-old and members of Easton Bavents Conservation would have to apply for permission and go through the correct planning process if they wanted to continue to protect his home, which is just 302ft (92m) from the cliff edge.

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But yesterday solicitors from Worcester based Parkinson Wright said they had applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the decision.

Mr Boggis said: “I am determined to do everything in my power to protect the little village my family established a hundred years ago.

“We welcome the co-operation we have recently had with Natural England in developing a compromise form of sea defence but believe that if the state plans for the destruction of a village and puts enormous obstacles in the way of helping the villagers themselves to prevent it, it has to make provision for fair compensation and for preventing its plans from damaging very important nature conservation sites.

“Our legal advisers also believe the continuing erosion of geological strata by the sea cannot be a feature of special scientific interest under the nature conservation legislation, and therefore that SSSI notification should not be used to try to prevent communities from defending themselves against destruction by the sea.”

Shaun Thomas, Natural England's east of England regional director, said Mr Boggis had no justification for implying the state “had plans for the destruction of a village”.

“The SSSI notification does not constitute a plan to allow the cliffs to erode and does not constitute a plan to prevent communities from defending themselves against destruction by the sea - a fact that was confirmed in the Court of Appeal,” he said. “SSSI designation constitutes a recognition that the site is of national conservation importance (which again the Court of Appeal confirmed), but it does not stop Mr Boggis from applying for planning permission for the works that he wishes to put in place to protect his home, nor would it stop Waveney District Council from granting this permission if they chose to do so.”

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