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£2m needed for sea defence repairs

PUBLISHED: 11:28 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:24 05 July 2010

The growing threat to Lowestoft's coastal defences was laid bare last night after it emerged £2m must be found to carry out vital repairs along the main beach, while a nearby sea wall is in danger of collapse within weeks.

The growing threat to Lowestoft's coastal defences was laid bare last night after it emerged £2m must be found to carry out vital repairs along the main beach, while a nearby sea wall is in danger of collapse within weeks.

Sea defence managers are set to apply to the Environment Agency for the funding to carry out work on the town's showpiece south beach, but have admitted defences at nearby Corton are falling apart and will have to be abandoned.

Meanwhile, a stretch of beach at North Denes has been closed where erosion has exposed the remnants of previous defences, which now pose a major danger to beach users.

With an annual sea defence budget of just £350,000, Waveney District Council is having to battle for national funding with coastal communities across the country.

The plan to seek £2m for work on the south beach, opposite Royal Green, was hatched because of the huge number of tourists it attracts and the number of businesses based there.

The council wants to carry out repairs to the foundations of the flint sea wall, built more than 100 years ago, and construct new groynes to help improve beach levels, which have been dramatically reduced in recent years.

However, just a few miles along the coast at Corton, council officers are preparing to put up barriers to stop people walking on the southern section of sea wall that runs northwards towards Hopton because erosion could see it collapse as soon as this winter.

The neighbouring timber breastwork, which protects the cliffs from Corton village to the Broadland Sands Holiday Park, is also falling apart and the decision has been taken not to invest any more in its maintenance.

Paul Patterson, who is in charge of sea defences in Waveney, said: “The northern part of Lowestoft south beach is suffering scour that has reduced the amenity value of the area and also placed at risk ageing defences that protect the promenade and tourist facilities from erosion.”

Work to improve the most vulnerable section of the wall took place last winter and a study is being carried out in preparation for the major project, which is scheduled to take place during the winter of 2009/10.

While the Kelling to Lowestoft Ness Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) says the defences along the south beach and North Denes should be maintained, it says there is no economic justification to carry on work at Corton.

Mr Patterson added: “The most significant erosion pressure is being felt from Lowestoft Ness northwards to the county boundary north of Corton village.”

The new barriers on the sea wall will have gates to allow public access to the wall until officers decide it is too dangerous.

Last year it was reported how villagers in Corton felt abandoned by the SMP, which says new defences completed in 2005 at a cost of £3.5m will not be replaced when they reach the end of their lifespan in 20 to 30 years. Forecasts showed that 40 buildings could be lost on the seaward side of Corton Road and The Street by 2055 and, by 2105, a further 60 properties could be claimed by the sea.

While the state of some defences in Corton is critical, Waveney District Council is promoting a joint study with Great Yarmouth Borough Council to explore opportunities to manage crumbling defences.

Ken Sale, the council's portfolio holder for the environment, said: “Tourism is the lifeblood of Waveney and Lowestoft beach is one of the best. As politicians all we can do is carry on lobbying the government to get more funding, but you can't just put a concrete wall around the whole of the country.”

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