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Coastal defences eroding faster than expected, putting area at flooding risk

PUBLISHED: 08:21 03 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:21 03 November 2019

Work is carried out along the sea wall at Slaughden Quay  to repair and strengthen the defences Picture: SIMON PARKER

Work is carried out along the sea wall at Slaughden Quay to repair and strengthen the defences Picture: SIMON PARKER

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Monitoring of a shingle bank which forms a vital flood defence on Suffolk's fragile coastline has revealed unexpected erosion - and the risk that it could be permanently breached.

The Slaughden shingle bank alongside the River Ore with Aldeburgh at the top of the picture - there are fears of a permanent breach Picture: MIKE PAGEThe Slaughden shingle bank alongside the River Ore with Aldeburgh at the top of the picture - there are fears of a permanent breach Picture: MIKE PAGE

There are concerns if the Slaughden bank immediately south of Aldeburgh is breached, then there could be "significant changes" in the wider Alde and Ore estuary area and shorelines alongside from flooding from the North Sea.

The shingle bank stretches between the Martello Tower, Slaughden, and the Lantern Marshes, separating the River Ore from the open sea, but heavy seas have now scoured away shingle, leaving it much thinner than anticipated.

It had been hoped that there would be "no active intervention" needed in the years ahead, and that nature would maintain the defence.

East Suffolk Council is now consulting the public on a policy change to "managed realignment" which would allow measures to be taken at Sudbourne Beach to reinforce the shingle bank and keep it stable.

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No plan of action has been agreed yet, but options will include changing the alignment of the bank, improving existing defences, widening the ridge, and creating new embankments to keep the sea at bay.

East Suffolk said: "The government (Defra) definition of Managed Realignment is 'allowing the shoreline to move backwards or forwards, with management to control or limit movement'. We think that this policy will enable us to provide resilience against erosion whilst working with a dynamic coast, through maintaining the ridge to prevent a permanent breach."

Studies had been carried out to identify potential action which would be environmentally acceptable.

David Ritchie, cabinet member for planning and coastal management, said: "This consultation is an important part of the process and ensures that we hear the views of the people who live, work and visit the coast before making any decisions on the proposed policy changes."

The consultation runs until November 30 and people can either send in their views or fill in an online questionnaire.

The questionnaire and more information about the consultation is available here.

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