Council could stop DIY sea defence work

By Jenni DixonCOUNCILLORS will finally be asked to consider putting a stop to a great-grandfather's DIY sea defence scheme.Members of Waveney District Council's rural area development control committee will be asked next month to either consider issuing enforcement and stop notices to retired engineering consultant Peter Boggis or to let him continue his work.

By Jenni Dixon

COUNCILLORS will finally be asked to consider putting a stop to a great-grandfather's DIY sea defence scheme.

Members of Waveney District Council's rural area development control committee will be asked next month to either consider issuing enforcement and stop notices to retired engineering consultant Peter Boggis or to let him continue his work.

Over the past two years Mr Boggis has brought in more than 55,000 tonnes of clay material to bolster the sandy cliffs less than 100m from his detached home in Easton Bavents, near Southwold, where he lives with his partner Anna.

However, his work has not been without its critics, including Suffolk County Council, English Nature and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Project.

The district council is responsible for sea defences in the area, along with the Environment Agency, and it has received a report from officers on Mr Boggis' sea defence scheme.

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The report said that if Mr Boggis did not hand in a planning application and an assessment into its impact on the environment, either enforcement and stop notices should be issued to bring the “tipping” to an immediate halt, or the council should take the opinion that the visual harm was outweighed by the benefits of the sea defence.

Steven Wood, the council's acting corporate director for regeneration and environment, added in the report: “The arguments may be finely balanced and, in the absence of an environmental impact assessment, the issues not fully analysed, but enforcement action should only be contemplated when there is a clear-cut case to justify it.”

Mr Boggis said he found the report generally “quite fair”, but felt it was regrettable that the council had described his scheme as “unauthorised tipping”.

He previously received enforcement and stop notices from the council in March 2003, when he agreed to cease the work and submit a retrospective planning application and an assessment into its impact on the environment.

But Mr Boggis resumed the sea defence scheme earlier this year and has continued even in the face of a warning from a QC employed by the council.

Mr Boggis has poured over legislation, including coast and environmental protection, planning and European Union directives, and believes his work is all above board and that money that would be spent on applications and assessments would be better used on continuing his defence.

“At no time have I contravened planning law or European Union directives,” he said. “This operation is the maintenance and reconstruction of a natural coast defence which has been done to defend the nation and in its small way is therefore classified as natural defence. It's also an agricultural operation as it maintains agricultural land.

Waveney District Council's rural area development control committee will discuss the matter on January 5.

jenni.dixon@eadt.co.uk

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