Suffolk Coastal: Talks ongoing over future of Alde and Ore estuaries

TALKS are ongoing in a bid to address serious concerns regarding the future of two important coastal estuaries.

The Alde and Ore Association has criticised proposals for the Alde, Ore and Butley rivers.

The group believe the plans - drawn up by Alde and Ore Futures group - will undermine flood defences along that coastline.

The two organisations have now met to discuss the concerns and last night those behind the proposals said a lot of good work had already been done.

The Alde and Ore Association claim the plans in Managing the Coastal Environment, which outlines how flood defences in the area will be managed over the next 20 years, are flawed. The document is still in its draft form and views from members of the public are being considered following a consultation that ended in September.

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Stewart Ashurst, chairman of the Alde and Ore Association, said: “It is not possible at all for the community to reach comprehensive and fair-minded conclusions on the basis of what, we are sorry to say, is the incomplete and at times inaccurate information in the text of the booklet.”

The association was so concerned that it commissioned specialist consultants Risk and Policy Analysts Ltd to examine the proposals for Orford and Redgrave in greater detail.

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The report highlighted a number of concerns claiming details were over simplified, unclear and unjustified.

The Alde and Ore Association feel assumptions about failure of defences are too pessimistic, costs are significantly overestimated and that tourism, recreational and social and economic benefits are ignored.

They are also worried that there is no strategic assessment of the estuary as a whole.

Alde and Ore Futures is a pilot initiative under the broader Suffolk Coast Futures project.

It is made up of partners including Suffolk Coastal District Council, Environment Agency (EA), Natural England, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Unit, Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council.

The Managing the Coastal Environment document states the EA will continue to maintain defences while it is “economical to so” and money is available from government.

However it does say that in some cases this might not be possible and businesses, landowners and property owners will be asked to contribute.

It also warns that regardless of the availability of funding there are places where it will be difficult to maintain the existing defences.

In the long term the report says new options such as “realigning” defences (moving them further inland) may have to be considered, allowing some areas to flood naturally.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said the Alde and Ore Association was one of many organisations that had played an important part in drawing up the document.

“Since the association submitted their comments, there have already been constructive meetings seeking to address their concerns,” he said. “Planning the way ahead for all aspects of life in the Alde and Ore, including managing its coastal environment, is the goal of the Alde and Ore Futures project and as the views of those living there has helped shaped the documents to date, so their responses will help finalise the way forward.”

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said they were not abandoning defences in this area and important work had already been completed.

These include embankment work at Snape and Aldeburgh town marshes, sea wall trials in Orford and shingle recycling and groin refreshment at Slaughden, she said.

Meanwhile they are also set to start a �100,000 maintenance project at Iken, while further works are planned next year.

“We have had two very productive meetings with the Alde and Ore Association and are committed to working together to achieve a pragmatic outcome,” she added.

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