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Disintegrating sea defences spark safety fears

PUBLISHED: 18:03 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:03 23 May 2019

Concerns have been raised about the condition of geobags Picture: BOB HOGGAR

Concerns have been raised about the condition of geobags Picture: BOB HOGGAR

Archant

Damage to sea defences has sparked fears over the safety of an area of Suffolk's collapsing coast near to where a man died.

Damaged gabins are also causing concern Picture: BOB HOGGARDamaged gabins are also causing concern Picture: BOB HOGGAR

The death of Brendan Lavery when part of a cliff collapsed on him in Thorpeness in January 2017 led to increased efforts to protect the coast from the onset of rising sea levels and erosion.

But there are now further concerns about the stability of the cliff face of after bags filled with sand and shingle (known as geobags) and large metal cages of rocks (gabions) placed in front of the cliffs to protect them from erosion - started to fall apart.

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council, which is working with the Environment Agency to manage the project, said the section of coastline is a "living seascape" where defences "will be exposed and eroded as the beach levels change over time".

But Bob Hoggar, who lives in the village, said: "It's a disgusting mess. It's getting worse and worse."

Coastal erosion on the beach at Thorpeness Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCoastal erosion on the beach at Thorpeness Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He also has concerns over the environmental impact of the bags of sand and shingle breaking down - although East Suffolk Council said its experts "do not have any significant concerns on these issues".

The authority will now consult on the future of the defences and whether they need to be replaced or repaired.

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A spokesman for the council pointed out that it had also put warning signs up last year for people to stay away from the area affected.

East Suffolk Council say they will be consulting on the future of defences Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEast Suffolk Council say they will be consulting on the future of defences Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maureen Jones, chairman of Aldringham-cum-Thorpe Parish Council said: "It's on our radar and it's continually kept an eye on.

"The defences have not lasted as long as they should have done.

"Last year there was something done on the beach and if it has got bad again we will contact East Suffolk."

Mrs Jones said that members of the public were recommended not to walk near the defences because of the cliff.

Bob Hoggar, left, is concerned about the safety of the damaged defences Picture: SU ANDERSONBob Hoggar, left, is concerned about the safety of the damaged defences Picture: SU ANDERSON

She added that they were hoping to go to public consultation in the next few months to find out what ideas they had for the defences.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency added: "We are working with East Suffolk Council as it reviews coastal protection for the Thorpeness site with its partners and the community.

"We will continue to offer advice and support on possible ways forward."

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