Youngsters join battle for the Blyth

CHILDREN from Walberswick and the surrounding areas of the Blyth estuary gathered on the village's beach yesterday to prepare for a major protest.

Mark Lord

CHILDREN from Walberswick and the surrounding areas of the Blyth estuary gathered on the village's beach yesterday to prepare for a major protest.

This Sunday's demonstration is being organised by the Walberswick SOS campaign, which aims to put public pressure on the Environment Agency (EA) and DEFRA to reverse the recent decision to eventually withdraw funding for maintenance of sea and river defences along the Blyth Estuary.

Protestors want the public to join them in Walberswick on Sunday at 11.30am to show the level of opposition to the proposals - and form a massive SOS sign on the beach.

Campaigners told the EADT yesterday that “these children represent the generation who won't be able to take their own kids to the beach or for walks around the beautiful marshes if it all gets washed away by the sea”.

Villager and protester Wally Webb added: “We have to make DEFRA hear us. This country was saved by a generation who fought on the beaches, who never surrendered, who never retreated. Now we need this generation to show the same Churchillian spirit.”

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Graham Henderson, chairman of Suffolk Coast Against Retreat (SCAR), has added his voice to the campaign.

He said: “We are fully supportive of the Walberswick SOS demonstration. SCAR is all about raising awareness of the current policy being promoted by the EA for DEFRA.

“At the end of this month the EA will close the consultation for the Blyth. Let us hope it then, based on responses received, is brave enough to change its current strategy to the right one. We look forward to seeing many people on Sunday.”

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer has confirmed that he will be turning out on Sunday to support the campaign.

To get involved with the Walberswick campaign visit www.walberswicksos.co.uk

The Environment Agency has said maintaining the defences on the Blyth Estuary cannot be justified when there are more urgent projects elsewhere in the country.

It is currently in a consultation period of a draft strategy for the maintenance of flood defences within the Blyth Estuary which ends on February 29.