Sea defence work could start in 2005

WORK on bolstering Southwold's fragile sea defences could start in 2005 - provided the scheme wins Government approval.Members of the public had the opportunity yesterdayto see for themselves how the town and surrounding area could be protected from coastal erosion and flooding in the future.

WORK on bolstering Southwold's fragile sea defences could start in 2005 - provided the scheme wins Government approval.

Members of the public had the opportunity yesterdayto see for themselves how the town and surrounding area could be protected from coastal erosion and flooding in the future.

An exhibition organised by the Environment Agency and Waveney District Council was held at Southwold Pier.

There was a steady flow of visitors to the exhibition, open from 2- 7pm, and officials said they were delighted with the response.


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"It is very pleasing to see so many people taking an active interest in our proposals," said Peter Doktor of the Environment Agency.

The area considered most at risk is from the cliffs at Easton Bavents north of Southwold Denes and River Blyth estuary to the south.

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At the moment Southwold is protected by a sea wall to the north of the pier and the promenade to the south. Both these defences also rely on the beach to play an important role.

The beach along the town frontage is narrow and generally low, leaving parts of the foundations of the seawall exposed and vulnerable to being undermined by the waves.

"Keeping the beach in place is imperative and we have come up with a proposal to reconstruct the groynes along the town frontage.

"Having listened to what local people have said we are proposing concrete groynes to the north of the pier and more traditional groynes along the beach to the south of the pier closer to the town centre," said Mr Doktor.

If no repair or replacement is carried out experts believe the sea defences at Southwold will fail by the year 2020.

Although there is no proposal to safeguard the crumbling cliffs at Easton Bavents there are plans to protect Southwold's sea defences from being "outflanked" by flood water.

"At the southern end of the Easton Bavents cliffs we propose to use rocks to prevent erosion that would jeopardise Southwold and its sea defences.

"The advantage of using rocks is that as the cliffs crumble and the shoreline changes the rocks can be moved so that they remain effective," said Mr Doktor.

The scheme is a joint operation involving both the Environment Agency and Waveney District Council.

It is likely that the £5million scheme will be fine-tuned in the coming months before being put to the Deparment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for approval.

Although the Agency believes the Southwold scheme meets all current requirements the Government has a point-scoring system to ensure that the most urgent cases get constructed first.

"Defra will be asked to consider our proposals for Southwold next year and if we are successful we hope to be able to do the construction work in 2005," said Mr Doktor.

In the meantime there is still an opportunity for people to have their say on the proposals by contacting joint project managers Stuart Barbrook at the Environment Agency on 01733 464306 or Paul Patterson of Waveney District Council on 01502 562111.

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