Fury at plan to ditch coastal defences

By Jenni DixonHOMES, businesses, a village hall, a church and a pub will be abandoned to fall into the sea over the next century, according to a new Government report.

By Jenni Dixon

HOMES, businesses, a village hall, a church and a pub will be abandoned to fall into the sea over the next century, according to a new Government report.

A new shoreline management plan for Norfolk and north Suffolk for the next 100 years said controlled retreat was the only affordable and sustainable way to manage the coastline.

It means coastal defences being abandoned in smaller villages, while a couple of big resorts, such as Lowestoft, will have its strengthened.

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One of the villages to be left to the long-term ravages of the North Sea is Corton, north of Lowestoft, which is set to lose up to 90 homes, 25 commercial properties, seafront holiday villas, its Methodist church, a 114-year-old listed village hall and a pub.

The proposal – drawn up by councils, Government officials and conservation agencies – also urged local authorities to start now setting aside land for relocating seaside residents. But the shoreline management plan has left some villagers and business owners fuming.

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Andy Smith, general manager at the Corton Beach Holiday Village, is planning to spend £2million refurbishing the site over the next five years.

He has had to put up a fence along the cliff top, which is only a few metres away from the site's 124 holiday villas, restaurant, shop and function rooms.

"We are prepared to spend money here for the safety of our clientele. Money should be spent by the Government on sea defences and not on other things. Our coastline should be protected – we don't want to lose it," he said.

Ron Coleman, 71, owner of the Wy Wurry caravan park, manages 11 static caravans, one of which is perched right on the cliff top.

"I've built up this business over the past 19 years. I have three sons and six grandchildren – it would be nice if one of them could take it on. We've got to think about the future generations and I would like all the sea defences we can get," he said.

Adrian Rodgers, 39, has lived in the village all his life and was angry to find his home could be one of the ones earmarked to be abandoned. The father-of-three said: "I think it's disgusting. They do not care about people like us."

But parish council chairman, Richard Barker, thought the village had up to 30 years of breathing space after new defences were completed last year.

However, £600,000 of damage was done during last winter's storms and Mr Barker admitted: "We are hiding behind the defence and if that goes, there will be considerable concern."

The report also said the price of sea defences was set to rise up to four times their present £3m to £5m a kilometre cost and Waveney District Council is waiting to hear from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for grant aid for repairing the Corton sea wall.

But district councillor Stephen Chilvers was still hopeful the funding come through. "Otherwise the money that has been already spent will have been wasted," he said.

"The Government obviously have their priorities elsewhere and we need to make provision in our local plan for relocating people worst affected to lessen the impact."

The report covers from Kelling in North Norfolk to Lowestoft. A shoreline management plan for the rest of Suffolk is to be started in January and is due to be published in a year's time.


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