Tough choices ahead for flood defences

RESIDENTS living on the Suffolk coast have been warned that difficult choices will have to be made to ensure their homes are protected for the next 100 years.

RESIDENTS living on the Suffolk coast have been warned that difficult choices will have to be made to ensure their homes are protected for the next 100 years.

The Environment Agency is undertaking a long-term study of the Alde and Ore estuary which includes Shingle Street, Hollesley, Boyton, Chillesford, Orford, Iken, Snape and Aldeburgh.

Officers have spent two days holding exhibitions at Aldeburgh and Orford to gather material from the public and inform them about a flood management strategy for the area.

The Agency said: "In many places earth embankments protect agricultural, residential and environmentally important locations, whilst the towns of Aldeburgh and Orford host harder concrete and rock revetments compared to the earth embankments.


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"Historically, the estuary was defended through its entire length. However, after the surge of 1953 some of the defences, particularly around Iken and at Long Reach, failed and were abandoned in the 1960's after it became unviable to continue to repair them.

"Some of the remaining defences are now deteriorating. Channel alignments are changing, areas of saltmash are eroding, and the long-term sustainability of the flood defences is in question.

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"Sea levels are also rising; the effect of this will be increase the risk of flooding and to increase the rate of defence deterioration."

Simon Hooton, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty manager for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit, said: "I think there will be difficult choices ahead for people. Changes will happen and force us to make big decisions.

"There is pressure on land and wildlife and we can not shy away from it. We need to look at the whole estuary as one. Solving one issue to the detriment of the others is not the way forward any more."

The area under investigation contains 65km of river banks and Nigel Pask, the Agency's project manager, said the aim was to produce a strategy that could take into account changes over the next 100 years.

These included sea levels rising at 600mm a century, or 6mm a year, and land tilt.

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