Warning over Southwold flood threat

A SEASIDE town could be at long-term risk from the sea unless action is taken to protect cliffs further north along the Suffolk coast, it was claimed last night as a landowner awaited a crucial High Court ruling.

David Green

A SEASIDE town could be at long-term risk from the sea unless action is taken to protect cliffs further north along the Suffolk coast, it was claimed last night as a landowner awaited a crucial High Court ruling.

Peter Boggis, who is bidding to win the right to maintain DIY defences at Easton Bavents, said the outcome of his legal case would have far-reaching implications for sea defences round the whole UK coast.

And the threat to Southwold would increase if he was unable to sustain his own defences and a decision was taken not to protect the cliffs in front of Easton Broad, a nationally and internationally important nature reserve to the north of his land, he said.


You may also want to watch:


Last week's three day hearing in the High Court was an attempt by Mr Boggis to overturn a decision by Natural England to include the eroding cliffs at Easton Bavents in a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Natural England claims the designation has been properly made in line with criteria aimed at enabling the continuing study of important fossil remains.

Most Read

The designation effectively led to the landowner having to suspend the maintenance of his DIY sea defence scheme, which involved the dumping of 250,000 tonnes of clay soil in front of the sandy cliffs.

The clay wall is designed to be gradually sacrificed to the sea - instead of the cliffs - and most of it has now disappeared into the waves. However, Mr Boggis has been prevented from “topping it up”.

The landowner said yesterday that the judge's ruling was not expected until the middle of December.

“It will be immensely important in as much as it will affect the individual's freedom to defend their homes against the sea. We are fighting for the right to conserve our land and homes.

“A ruling in our favour will acknowledge that human needs are more important than antiquities,” he said.

Mr Boggis, 77, a retired engineer, said the abandonment of the cliffs at Easton Bavents and those further north at Easton Broad would increase long-term pressure on Southwold.

“If in 25 years time the Government says it cannot protect Southwold because it would be too costly then - as the law has so far been interpreted - bureaucracy would prevent the people of the town from defending their own homes,” he said.

Mr Boggis said it would be a “sad day” for the inhabitants of coastal areas if the High Court decision went against him.

However, such a ruling would not mean the end of the legal fight. “There are other routes I can take,” he said.

Sue Allen, chairman of the Blyth estuary Group, which is fighting Environment Agency plans to abandon defences in the River Blyth valley, said she could not judge whether failure to maintain defences north of Southwold would increase the flooding risk to the town. “That's a matter for the experts,” she said.

There was no-one available yesterday to comment on behalf of the Environment Agency. However, the agency has pledged to protect centres of population and has argued that this can only be achieved by savings in the budget for protecting isolated areas.

Natural England has declined to comment while the legal case is ongoing.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus