Shingle bank breaches to be repaired

A SHINGLE bank which was breached in high tides earlier this month will be sealed in a one-off £20,000 project, it emerged last night.On November 1, gale force northerly winds prevented the sea level from dropping after a high tide, which caused the worst flooding in north Suffolk in 12 years.

A SHINGLE bank which was breached in high tides earlier this month will be sealed in a one-off £20,000 project, it emerged last night.

On November 1, gale force northerly winds prevented the sea level from dropping after a high tide, which caused the worst flooding in north Suffolk in 12 years.

Areas in Southwold, Walberswick and Blythburgh were immersed in water and at Dunwich the sea went over the top of the shingle bank to flood the Dingle Marshes.

Now the Environment Agency has agreed, as a one-off project, to seal the breaches on the Dunwich to Walberswick shingle ridge.


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Dr Charles Beardall, Environment Agency area manager said: “The flooding in November gives us an indication of the impact that climate change is likely to bring more frequently in the future.

“We recognise the concern the local community will have now we have decided to stop bulldozing the ridge, but we can reassure them that their homes will be at no greater risk of tidal flooding.”

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More than 2km of the shingle bank, which extends 4km between the two villages, was flattened with four breaches after the floods.

This allowed saltwater to get into the fresh water marshes, which are a designated site protected by the European Habitats Directive. As a result many species, especially fish, were killed.

Sealing the ridge will allow tidal water to drain out through the Walberswick sluice but if the ridge is damaged again the Environment Agency said no further repairs will be undertaken.

They said this one-off project to seal the ridge is a short-term solution, as it has concluded that continuing to reinstate the ridge each time it is damaged is neither sustainable nor affordable.

They said the shingle ridge did not offer any meaningful flood protection to properties in Dunwich, and the events in November have confirmed this.

Dr Beardall said: “We have to target our resources to the highest priority areas in the country.”

Around £23,000 had been spent on re-profiling the ridge just eight weeks before it was breached again.

And, with the onset of climate change, it is expected that the region will see more of the potentially problematic high tides.

The Environment Agency is currently undertaking a Dunwich-Walberswick Study in consultation with the local community and landowners and the results of this are expected in April 2007.

This study will identify the Agency's long-term management policy for the frontage.

The latest work is expected to be carried out as soon as conditions allow.

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