Minister witnesses coastal erosion

GUIDELINES on how the government will try to tackle the problem of coastal erosion will be drawn up using knowledge from communities along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, a minister said yesterday.

GUIDELINES on how the government will try to tackle the problem of coastal erosion will be drawn up using knowledge from communities along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, a minister said yesterday.

Huw Irranca-Davies, minister for the natural and marine environment, wildlife and rural affairs, visited the east coast yesterday to see local erosion problems first hand.

He was taken to Southwold, where he was shown the crumbling north dock wall at the harbour. In the past few months, large sections of concrete have fallen off the wall, which protects businesses and roads leading into Southwold from flooding.

Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, told Mr Irranca-Davies that walls around Southwold harbour need to be protected as part of a wider flood defence programme. “If you cannot protect this, then you cannot protect the rest of the town. It is a chain and the problem is that certain links in the chain need mending, or else you'll lose the whole thing,” he said.


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Mr Irranca-Davies said that information gathered from visits to the coast will be used to draw up future government policies. He said: “By the summer we hope to be able to bring forward a range of options for how to deal with problems along the whole coastline.

“This is not a 'one size fits all' approach and we will need a lot more tools in our toolbox if we are going to work out these problems.”

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He added: “There is tremendous passion among the people I have met. When you're faced with the possibility of losing your house or your business then that is natural.

“It is vitally important to come out of Whitehall. I haven't come out with solutions or to preach a message pretending that I have all the answers. I'm trying to see whether there is agreement around the challenges we face.”

Sue Allen, chairman of the Blyth Estuary Group, said: “It is always useful for somebody to come and see what we are actually up to.”

After spending some time in Southwold, he travelled down the coast to see the new flood defences in Felixstowe and to find out more about the partnership work which is under way at Bawdsey.

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