Renewed rally cry to safeguard coast

AN MP has issued a renewed rallying call against plans to let miles of the Suffolk coast succumb to rising sea levels.

Russell Claydon

AN MP has issued a renewed rallying call against plans to let miles of the Suffolk coast succumb to rising sea levels.

Not enough is known about the future effects of climate change to give up the fight to protect coastal communities, rallied John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal and a former Environment Minister.

The MP told a packed meeting of Suffolk Coast Against Retreat (SCAR) that victories can be won in Suffolk, but only if the battle is not surrendered before it has even started.

“You do not say 'it might be a disaster in 30 years time',” he said. “If we did that some of us might have never got married!”

Speaking at coastal erosion group SCAR's AGM on Saturday, he said now was the time for campaigners to turn up the heat on the Government to ensure they do not unnecessarily lose land to the sea.

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“It is a question of managing in order to hold on, not in order to give up,” he said. “I do not think anyone has done as much work as me on climate change as I have over the years and even I do not know what will happen. I am a pessimist by nature and I think it is going to be worse than people have so far accepted.”

But he said if you have a hole in your roof you would maintain it as best you could and pray the water doesn't come in, instead of giving up and letting your possessions get ruined.

“That is precisely what we should be doing,” he said. “We have to keep things going for as long as we can.”

He said the attitude of the Government in their managed retreat strategy was currently to look at 50 years ahead and 100 years ahead, which “puts the whole system out of kilter”.

He added: “We do what we can because that is the human condition. The bane of climate change is we do not know what will happen so lets get on with protecting it for the next 3-4 years.”

Mr Gummer also called on all SCAR's members to flood the Boundary Committee and Secretary of State Hazel Blears with letters opposing options put forward for local government reorganisation in Suffolk.

He told the AGM, held at Orford town hall, how both options being looked at would hinder efforts to protect coastal communities, with the whole process draining funds which could have been used to shore up the coastline.

“Lets give the Secretary of State the best possible evidence that the local feeing is enough is enough. If it is not broke don't fix it, so lets get on with this,” he said.

Sue Allen, chairman of the Blyth Estuary Group and vice chair of SCAR, told the meeting: “They (the Government) call it managed retreat. We call it total abandonment over 20 years.”