Coastal defence plans revealed

NEW sea defence plans for a north Suffolk coastal broad have been unveiled – including a bid to relocate a 60-hectare reedbed.Engineering consultant Halcrow has unveiled its preferred option for coastal defence and sea management at Easton Broad, north of Southwold,It includes the construction of a substantial clay embankment, a new drain at Potter's Bridge and allowing the natural erosion of the shingle ridge.

NEW sea defence plans for a north Suffolk coastal broad have been unveiled – including a bid to relocate a 60-hectare reedbed.

Engineering consultant Halcrow has unveiled its preferred option for coastal defence and sea management at Easton Broad, north of Southwold,

It includes the construction of a substantial clay embankment, a new drain at Potter's Bridge and allowing the natural erosion of the shingle ridge.

The work would control water levels, prevent salt water from reaching upstream, provide protection against tidal floods, improve the conservation value of the shingle beach and enlarge the saline lagoon.

But, while protecting reedbeds upstream of the B1127, the scheme would reduce the 60ha reedbed downstream.

The Environment Agency is working with English Nature and the Suffolk Biological Records Office to recreate the lost reedbed elsewhere in the county.

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Stuart Barbrook, project manager at the Environment Agency, said: "The whole object of the study is to develop a sustainable flood management scheme for Easton Broad, which is only protected by the shingle bank.

"We're proposing to build a new defence line to conserve the nature interests at the site but over time the downstream reedbed will be lost because of flooding and saline intrusion and we have a duty, under European directives, to relocate it."

The flood management plans will be displayed at a public exhibition at Wrentham Village Hall on August 18, between 4pm and 8pm.

They include:

n Allowing the natural roll back of the shingle ridge at Easton Broad.

n Building a longer pipe from the reedbeds and saline lagoon to the sea through the beach, supported on wooden piles that can be extended inland as the coastline retreats.

n Building a new drain at Potter's Bridge to control water levels and prevent salt water from coming upstream.

n Constructing a clay embankment immediately seaward of the B1127 road as a set-back line of defence to protect against tidal floods.

A spokeswoman for Halcrow said: "The new embankment would be a substantial landscape feature within the Easton valley.

"Opportunities for enhancements will be considered such as the provision of eel and otter passes within the new culvert, nesting islands in the lagoon and possibly a footpath on the top of the new embankment."

Retired consultant engineer Peter Boggis, who has been bringing in material at the foot of cliffs at his home hamlet of Easton Bavents in a bid to stop coastal erosion, thinks the option is sensible but priority should be given to beach defences.

"It is not necessarily right but it's a reasonable option. What is necessary before they do anything is beach nourishment. It's no good leaving a bank to form naturally on a seashore when there is insufficient material to form a material bank," he said.

"Therefore the correct thing to do would be to nourish the beach in the area to ensure that a strong natural bank would build."

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