Threatened tower may be moved from coast

A HIGHLY costly and intricate engineering operation involving the removal of 750,000 bricks could be undertaken to save a Martello Tower from crumbling into the sea.

A HIGHLY costly and intricate engineering operation involving the removal of 750,000 bricks could be undertaken to save a Martello Tower from crumbling into the sea.

English Heritage has revealed it is considering moving the tower at East Lane, Bawdsey, near Woodbridge, inland to save the 195-year-old piece of heritage from falling into the North Sea.

But the complex project could be so expensive that it would be more practical and cheaper to upgrade the emergency defence scheme that exists at East Lane.

The tower's walls are up to three metres thick and there is 150sqm of space on the two floors with a conservatory on the top.

The tower weighs thousands of tonnes and it would require a specially-built low-loader lorry and a newly-laid piece of road to be transported inland. Land would have to be bought for the tower's new resting place.

Coastal erosion at East Lane is so severe that the tower is only 10 metres away from the cliff edge. It used to have 25 metres of land and 15 metres of shingle beach.

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Land south of the tower has been eroding at the rate of about two metres a month recently.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: ''The Martello Tower at East Lane, Bawdsey, is a scheduled ancient monument. This tower, along with the other towers on the east coast of England, is of national importance to our heritage and it would be a tragedy to lose it.

''English Heritage is not a coastal protection agency and, as such, we do not fund coastal protection or erosion works. We are, however, working closely with the owner, the Environment Agency, Defra and the local authority, to discuss the way forward to protect and preserve the tower.

''We have been discussing a full range of options with our engineers which could include moving the tower. Funding has also been secured from Suffolk Coastal District Council and the owners for works to protect the tower for the short-term.”

John Fell-Clark, owner of the tower, said: ''Moving the tower may be the only way to save it. But how absurd to go to those lengths at an enormous cost when it would be far cheaper to implement the capital scheme which has been designed by Environment Agency appointed engineers and has been on the table for the last three years or so.

''Moving the tower, what it would cost, would be an absurd length to go to particularly if you have to move four towers in order to achieve something that could be achieved for less money than something already on the table.

''The capital scheme involves upgrading the emergency rock armour that has been put there. It would cost between £1.5million and £1.75m and on top of that there is maintenance of the scheme for 50 years, so the whole project is £2.4m which would give a protection of one in 50 years or one in 100 years for the East Lane point.''

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