Sea threatens coastal buildings

AN INHABITATED martello tower and two houses are at risk from being swept into the sea, it was revealed yesterday.The ancient Napoleonic tower at East Lane, Bawdsey, near Woodbridge, and the two nearby cliff-top properties will disappear within four years if a vital defence scheme does not receive Government money.

By Richard Smith

AN INHABITATED martello tower and two houses are at risk from being swept into the sea, it was revealed yesterday.

The ancient Napoleonic tower at East Lane, Bawdsey, near Woodbridge, and the two nearby cliff-top properties will disappear within four years if a vital defence scheme does not receive Government money.

The full extent of the perilous position at East Lane was evident yesterday as the North Sea crashed onto the rocks, several feet away from the properties. No-one was available at the tower or houses to comment but it was clear they are in a dangerous position now at a vulnerable point on the Suffolk coastline.


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The coastal footpath has already been diverted inland because it is only inches from disappearing into the sea and the Environment Agency has erected notices warning that the current sea defence scheme is at risk and put up a fence to keep visitors away.

But it is not just this area of East Lane which is in danger. There would be a knock-on effect for the rest of the coast including the mouth of the River Deben and Felixstowe if the flood defence fails at East Lane.

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Suffolk County Council, the district council and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) put in an emergency protection scheme at East Lane in 1997. There had been rapid cliff erosion caused by stormy weather.

Last September there was more emergency work – but already this is showing signs of wear and tear after recent storms and high tides.

However, a protection scheme costing £1.5million is in danger of not going ahead for many years. Defra has downgraded the Bawdsey scheme from a medium to low priority.

Andy Smith, deputy council leader, said: ''This council was prepared to commit £100,000 towards a £1.5million programme of works in partnership with the county council, the Environment Agency and Defra. But new Defra rules have put an end to our immediate hopes.

''The stark facts appear to be that if nothing is done, then the existing defences could fail within two years and within a further two years the martello tower and the other properties at East Lane could be lost.

''We are facing tough choices – we were ready to invest £100,000 in the full scheme that would have provided a 50 year solution, but now we are having to consider committing this council to a potential additional £40,000 expenditure a year well into the future.''

A Defra spokeswoman said the Bawdsey scheme had not made the priority score threshold for the next financial year. However, an announcement was due soon on revised thresholds for 2004-05 and the following two years.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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