Sea defences campaigner faces appeal

NATURAL England has announced that it is to appeal against a High Court ruling which saw campaigner Peter Boggis win the right to defend his home against the ravages of the sea.

NATURAL England has announced that it is to appeal against a High Court ruling which saw campaigner Peter Boggis win the right to defend his home against the ravages of the sea.

In December, a hearing at the High Court in London - brought by retired engineer Mr Boggis, who lives at Easton Bavents, near Southwold - judged that although Natural England had acted lawfully in designating parts of the fossil-rich cliffs as a site of national conservation importance, an assessment of the plan on a nearby nature reserve should have been carried out.

Mr Boggis, 77, had used his DIY skills to build more than 1km of his own coastal defences in front of the eroding cliffs below his house, before being stopped.

Natural England, the body responsible for protecting the country's wild plants, animals and natural features, reinstated the coast from Easton Bavents to Pakefield near Lowestoft as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 2006.

It had been an SSSI for decade, but it needed to be re-designated in 2006 as it had eroded beyond the original lines on the map and some key parts of the site were no longer protected.

And last month, a judge at London's High Court agreed with Mr Boggis that Natural England should have carried out an environmental impact assessment before including the area in the SSSI.

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Mr Justice Blair ruled that Natural England had failed to carry out an appropriate assessment required under EU law to see if the SSSI might have an adverse effect on the special protection area for birds at Easton Broad and ordered the designation for that section to be quashed, although the SSSI area still stands until the appeal has been heard.

Shaun Thomas, regional director of Natural England, said that the judge's decision will impact on all local planning authorities who have to make such decisions in the future.

He said: “The High Court's judgment has unintended consequences that go far beyond the specifics of the case.

“It threatens to stifle the ways in which advice and expert opinion can be used to inform planning and development decision and poses a real risk of unnecessary bureaucracy.

“Natural England wishes to work with Mr Boggis to find a solution to the predicament he faces, but we need to resolve the unworkable precedent that the judgment threatens to create.”