Legal threat to council over sea erosion

By David LennardA FED-UP resident has claimed a council's "unnecessary" delays in a coastal protection scheme had cost him about £250,000 and led to more erosion.

By David Lennard

A FED-UP resident has claimed a council's "unnecessary" delays in a coastal protection scheme had cost him about £250,000 and led to more erosion.

Peter Boggis stopped work in March last year after dumping about 28,000 tons of earth and inert waste material at the base of crumbling cliffs near his home in Easton Bavents, near Southwold.

It came after Waveney District Council said he needed planning permission to carry out the work and should have carried out an environmental impact assessment.

Mr Boggis said he had wanted to "avoid any risk of unnecessary controversy" with Waveney District Council, so stopped his sea defence project to get planning permission and agreed to carry out the environmental impact assessment.

But he claimed the ongoing delays since then had cost him about £250,000 through the likes of wasted materials and had led to more erosion.

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Mr Boggis said he had spent the past nine months asking the council to clarify its concerns over his project to protect the cliffs near his home.

"I informed the council that interference with the project would incur heavy costs. The project was being done with neither financial or environmental cost to the nation," he added.

"Had dialogue been allowed, this matter would have been settled months ago and much of the £250,000 waste caused could have been avoided."

After consulting experts and studying law and planning documents, Mr Boggis was adamant his project did not require planning permission or an environmental impact assessment and was "perfectly lawful" under both English and European law.

"This project does not constitute either reclamation from the sea or the construction of permanent sea defence works. It is the reconstruction and maintenance of recent and past natural soft sea defence," he said.

"It has a major part to play in helping to prevent Southwold from becoming more of a promontory ever exposed to the increasing ferocity of the sea."

Mr Boggis hoped the council would back down so the first stage of his project could be completed before the summer visitors arrive in Southwold.

But he warned he would have no choice as a last resort to get the project restarted but to take legal action against the district council, resulting in extra expense to Council Tax payers.

However, Waveney District Council's solicitor, Peter Cox, has written to Mr Boggis confirming itss position that both planning permission and an environmental impact assessment were necessary before work could continue.

No-one was available for comment at Waveney District Council, although the authority has offered to present its case and that of Mr Boggis to a top independent legal expert for an opinion that would be binding on both sides.

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